Banner
The Endless Bookcase
Sharing Experiences and Expertise

Berhane, the Peace Messenger — Ali Hindi & Amanda Woolley & Amanuel Yemane & Peter Riddell

The extraordinary life of Berhane Woldegabriel, Eritrean teacher, journalist and bridge-builder

Classification: Peacekeeping operations, Biography: historical, political and military

Click to look inside
×
191
please wait
Rating 6 (from 6 votes)
Rating: 5.00 out of 5 (3 customer ratings)
5 stars
100%
4 stars
0%
3 stars
0%
2 stars
0%
1 stars
0%

Reviews

Dr. Etain Casey
Timely
Review date: 1st February 2024

In an age of poverty, injustice, displacement, disputes and wars between peoples and between states this book is a timely insight into the life and work of Berhane Woldegabriel and his role as a messenger of peace.

A chronicle of first-person stories, photographs, biography, eulogies; poetry and journalism, the editors of this volume were faced with a challenge in coherently reflecting the multi-faceted life and complex character of this teacher, journalist, linguist and peace maker as it was lived in his work across the two continents of Europe and Africa. In the event, the structure ensures that his good humour, kindness, empathy and willingness to get involved is joyfully evident.

Many of the contributors to the book knew Berhane at different stages in his life but what their accounts consistently witness is that his personal agenda did not significantly change in his search for political and social justice and educational opportunity for Eritreans. His contemporaries still recognised the boy they knew in the older man. The cultural mediator for Save the Children clambering around the deck of a Mediterranean rescue boat in 2017 was motivated by the same principles of service to his people as the young journalist publishing commentaries on refugee experience in Sudan in 1977.

Berhane was a policeman’s son and brought up in very modest circumstances. In 1975, the policy of the Mengistu regime cut short his work and precipitated his first swift flight from Eritrea to Sudan. In 1990 his teaching and writing career was interrupted again at the accession of Omar Al-Bashir and he began a new life in the UK. Once placed there as a refugee himself, he began work on what he saw as the need to provide support, of course to the needs of the Eritrean diaspora, but also to many others who found themselves similarly displaced.

But what of his role as peace maker or bridge builder. What does that actually mean? Berhane’s own journalism in the form of three articles dating from the late 1970s to 2000 in the Appendix of this book, reveals a person with shrewd insights into cause and effect in Eritrean and Horn of Africa post-war dilemmas and one who could clearly explain the social consequences of thousands of refugees. He points out the value of the call to national unity which secured Eritrean independence but then charts the subsequent political descent into factions, narrow nationalism and querulous disputes with neighbours. Resisting a partisan approach, he used his last two decades to engineer reconciliation among opposition groups by energetically drawing protagonists together.

Crucial to the power of his successful conflict mediation was undoubtedly his ability to communicate, which is evidenced by many contributors to the book, and his genuine love of language and flair for translation. In this he was gifted. He could move between communities of Tigrayan, Amharic and Arabic speakers, Christians and Moslems as well as the English-speaking representatives of refugee agencies, effectively, smoothly and convincingly. He could help save lives at sea. In further practical terms, as a natural teacher, he was enabled to earn a living lecturing at SOAS and other universities and colleges where he could make contacts, earn recognition for his linguistic skill, and further his projects and initiatives.

The editors of the volume are keen to present Berhane Messenger of Peace as more than an account of a kind and generous man, an interesting person with a fondness for a little sartorial elegance and he was all this, but so much more. They have succeeded in foregrounding his work and impact among the organisations in the UK and elsewhere that work for peace, harmony and religious tolerance in the Horn of Africa and importantly they have drawn in many contributors from his professional, social and family life who have much to add to our understanding of Africa, Eritrean history and society and the man himself.

Finally, this is an inspiring book of value to the young, the children of the Eritrean diaspora, and to those entirely ignorant of the little known or understood part of the world from which this remarkable man emerged.

Dr. Etain Casey, Lecturer, SOAS


Verified Purchase
please wait
Jane Sleightholme
A special life
Review date: 28th November 2023

This book should be read by anyone wanting to understand more about the role of bridge-builders and conflict resolvers between and within communities as practiced by Berhane Woldegabriel with his fellow Eritreans and other African groups (including Somalis and Ugandans) in the diaspora.

I worked with one of editors Amanda Woolley in London and she often talked about Berhane. I met Berhane, a lovely warm intelligent man, on several occasions but until reading this book I didn't quite realise how much work he had done as a peace messenger for his fellow Eritrean people and for African people in general. He was a very good journalist and the book has a section of articles
he wrote from the 1980s onwards for the Sudanese magazine Sudanow and Africa World Review on the African refugee problem and the issue of Eritrean unity.
One of the last things he did before his death in 2020 was to use his language skills in Arabic and Tigrinya to take on the role of cultural mediator for Save the Children.
He made two tours in the Mediterranean on the SS Vos Hestia helping to rescue hundreds of refugees from small boats and transport them to safety in Sicily.


Verified Purchase
please wait
Stephanie Grant
An interesting read
Review date: 1st December 2023

When I looked at the poster for the launch of this book, I was sorry not to be able to attend and intrigued by the book. I met Berhane just once, he did an amazing job pushing my wheelchair on one of the Quaker walks and we had an interesting chat about all sorts of things including the trees we were passing. So I ordered a copy of the book.

It has proved an interesting read. I have gained an insight into his life and into his motivation for working with refugees. He grew up in Eritrea, left as a refugee in the 1970s, worked as a journalist in Sudan for 13 years, leaving there as a refugee once more in 1990.

He spent 30 years in the UK working as an educator, translator and interpreter and becoming a dedicated peacemaker. In 2017, he spent time working with Save the Children trying to rescue refugees crossing the Mediterranean in small boats.

I have learnt quite a lot about the history of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan; about the pressures that can lead people to flee their homeland; the different ways countries respond to the arrival of refugees and how some of this results from colonialism.

Many people have contributed to the book, including Berhane himself in the form of some articles he wrote as a journalist. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to see things from a different perspective.


Verified Purchase
please wait
Rating: 5.00 out of 5 (3 customer ratings)

Paperback eBook

£14.95
ISBN: 9781914151927
If you have a coupon code you can apply it after you have added items to the shopping cart.
Our eBooks are in the international standard ePub format which is used by most eBook reader devices and can be read on a wide choice of FREE APPs on smartphones, tablets and PCs.
We also publish on Amazon in their proprietary Kindle format.

Description

Berhane Woldegabriel was an Eritrean refugee who settled in the UK for the last thirty years of his life. He became a dedicated peacemaker, using his great political understanding and interpersonal skills to build bridges both amongst his own Eritrean people, and within wider communities.

Berhane was a universalist who loved people regardless of nationality and creed. Himself a man of strong presence and opinions, he believed, and demonstrated, that individuals and groups could resolve conflict by accepting their differences, finding a common purpose, and abandoning hate.

Berhane was warm, erudite and entertaining and his death in 2020 has left a huge gap in the lives of his friends and loved ones. In the hope that his work and ideas will continue, the editors of this book trace his development as a peacemaker from his early years, combining tributes, photographs and a narrative of his life’s journey.

Futher links

Initiatives of Change UK (IofC)
Save the Children
Learn more about the editors: Ali Hindi & Amanda Woolley & Amanuel Yemane & Peter Riddell.

Further details

Rating: 5.00 out of 5 (3 customer ratings)
5 stars
100%
4 stars
0%
3 stars
0%
2 stars
0%
1 stars
0%

Reviews

Dr. Etain Casey
Timely
Review date: 1st February 2024

In an age of poverty, injustice, displacement, disputes and wars between peoples and between states this book is a timely insight into the life and work of Berhane Woldegabriel and his role as a messenger of peace.

A chronicle of first-person stories, photographs, biography, eulogies; poetry and journalism, the editors of this volume were faced with a challenge in coherently reflecting the multi-faceted life and complex character of this teacher, journalist, linguist and peace maker as it was lived in his work across the two continents of Europe and Africa. In the event, the structure ensures that his good humour, kindness, empathy and willingness to get involved is joyfully evident.

Many of the contributors to the book knew Berhane at different stages in his life but what their accounts consistently witness is that his personal agenda did not significantly change in his search for political and social justice and educational opportunity for Eritreans. His contemporaries still recognised the boy they knew in the older man. The cultural mediator for Save the Children clambering around the deck of a Mediterranean rescue boat in 2017 was motivated by the same principles of service to his people as the young journalist publishing commentaries on refugee experience in Sudan in 1977.

Berhane was a policeman’s son and brought up in very modest circumstances. In 1975, the policy of the Mengistu regime cut short his work and precipitated his first swift flight from Eritrea to Sudan. In 1990 his teaching and writing career was interrupted again at the accession of Omar Al-Bashir and he began a new life in the UK. Once placed there as a refugee himself, he began work on what he saw as the need to provide support, of course to the needs of the Eritrean diaspora, but also to many others who found themselves similarly displaced.

But what of his role as peace maker or bridge builder. What does that actually mean? Berhane’s own journalism in the form of three articles dating from the late 1970s to 2000 in the Appendix of this book, reveals a person with shrewd insights into cause and effect in Eritrean and Horn of Africa post-war dilemmas and one who could clearly explain the social consequences of thousands of refugees. He points out the value of the call to national unity which secured Eritrean independence but then charts the subsequent political descent into factions, narrow nationalism and querulous disputes with neighbours. Resisting a partisan approach, he used his last two decades to engineer reconciliation among opposition groups by energetically drawing protagonists together.

Crucial to the power of his successful conflict mediation was undoubtedly his ability to communicate, which is evidenced by many contributors to the book, and his genuine love of language and flair for translation. In this he was gifted. He could move between communities of Tigrayan, Amharic and Arabic speakers, Christians and Moslems as well as the English-speaking representatives of refugee agencies, effectively, smoothly and convincingly. He could help save lives at sea. In further practical terms, as a natural teacher, he was enabled to earn a living lecturing at SOAS and other universities and colleges where he could make contacts, earn recognition for his linguistic skill, and further his projects and initiatives.

The editors of the volume are keen to present Berhane Messenger of Peace as more than an account of a kind and generous man, an interesting person with a fondness for a little sartorial elegance and he was all this, but so much more. They have succeeded in foregrounding his work and impact among the organisations in the UK and elsewhere that work for peace, harmony and religious tolerance in the Horn of Africa and importantly they have drawn in many contributors from his professional, social and family life who have much to add to our understanding of Africa, Eritrean history and society and the man himself.

Finally, this is an inspiring book of value to the young, the children of the Eritrean diaspora, and to those entirely ignorant of the little known or understood part of the world from which this remarkable man emerged.

Dr. Etain Casey, Lecturer, SOAS


Verified Purchase
please wait
Jane Sleightholme
A special life
Review date: 28th November 2023

This book should be read by anyone wanting to understand more about the role of bridge-builders and conflict resolvers between and within communities as practiced by Berhane Woldegabriel with his fellow Eritreans and other African groups (including Somalis and Ugandans) in the diaspora.

I worked with one of editors Amanda Woolley in London and she often talked about Berhane. I met Berhane, a lovely warm intelligent man, on several occasions but until reading this book I didn't quite realise how much work he had done as a peace messenger for his fellow Eritrean people and for African people in general. He was a very good journalist and the book has a section of articles
he wrote from the 1980s onwards for the Sudanese magazine Sudanow and Africa World Review on the African refugee problem and the issue of Eritrean unity.
One of the last things he did before his death in 2020 was to use his language skills in Arabic and Tigrinya to take on the role of cultural mediator for Save the Children.
He made two tours in the Mediterranean on the SS Vos Hestia helping to rescue hundreds of refugees from small boats and transport them to safety in Sicily.


Verified Purchase
please wait
Stephanie Grant
An interesting read
Review date: 1st December 2023

When I looked at the poster for the launch of this book, I was sorry not to be able to attend and intrigued by the book. I met Berhane just once, he did an amazing job pushing my wheelchair on one of the Quaker walks and we had an interesting chat about all sorts of things including the trees we were passing. So I ordered a copy of the book.

It has proved an interesting read. I have gained an insight into his life and into his motivation for working with refugees. He grew up in Eritrea, left as a refugee in the 1970s, worked as a journalist in Sudan for 13 years, leaving there as a refugee once more in 1990.

He spent 30 years in the UK working as an educator, translator and interpreter and becoming a dedicated peacemaker. In 2017, he spent time working with Save the Children trying to rescue refugees crossing the Mediterranean in small boats.

I have learnt quite a lot about the history of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan; about the pressures that can lead people to flee their homeland; the different ways countries respond to the arrival of refugees and how some of this results from colonialism.

Many people have contributed to the book, including Berhane himself in the form of some articles he wrote as a journalist. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to see things from a different perspective.


Verified Purchase
please wait