How many of you belong to the exclusive club of being ‘put in place’ by supermodel Alec Wek?!

Posted: August 5, 2011 in Anti-stereotyping/racism/xenophobia, Gender and Women's Rights, Youth Issues, [Social] Media
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A couple of nights ago (3 August 2011), I had the opportunity to be a guest debater on Al Jazeera’s “The Stream”. The program was to discuss whether or not my country Eritrea is suffering from a repressive government or forging a path to self-reliance, and I was told by a senior director that it would not be a heated debate, just one to discuss the reasons why young people are leaving Eritrea and the impact of the sanctions. My name and contact information was forwarded to “The Stream” by others because of the fact that I use Facebook to connect young Eritreans in the Diaspora to their homeland. I was under the impression that I would have the opportunity to discuss these topics and how youth are using social media to share information and mobilize themselves. Unfortunately however, nothing could really prepare me for what had actually happened on the show.

Supermodel Alec WekIt was exciting to know that Alec Wek, the refugee-turned-super model originally from South Sudan, would be a guest host on the show. The show started out with her talking about how she had migrated as a refugee to the United Kingdom at a very young age, and she was asked whether or not she is a feminist. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed when she answered ‘no’ to that question, but overall I thought I was going to partake in a calm debate on migration and human trafficking, a phenomenon taking place all over Africa and not just in Eritrea.

Considering the fact that the aim of the program wasn’t to really talk about the main issues, just to give those against the Government of Eritrea a platform to continue their smear campaign against Eritrea, I think I was able to keep a good amount of composure. I was nervous and it wasn’t easy trying to rebut the continuous accusations being thrown at me. The guy I was ‘debating’ with, a Mussie Zena (I had never heard of him prior to the show) was just so emotional. I couldn’t really make out what he was saying as it seemed to me he was having a ranting fit.

Anyway, when I was trying to make a point that just like any other type of youth, the youth of Eritrea are exposed to globalization and do dream of living in the West, I was accused of being insensitive. I was interrupted by supermodel Alec Wek before I could finish my comment, but she was under the impression that I was accusing all refuges of leaving their countries to get “iPods, iPads and Air Jordans.” I did make the comment about iPods and what have you, but I didn’t put it in that context; I said that the youth of Eritrea already have exposure to such things and the picture-perfect images they see in Hollywood films. In spite of the fact that Eritrea is a poor, developing country, youth chose to illegally migrate and be trafficked to the West for economic reasons; they believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. I was also going to emphasize the fact there are thousands of youth in Eritrea who proudly live and serve their country and that despite the difficulties and challenges they face, there is nothing undignified about serving and actively participating in the development of one’s country… But alas, I was dissed by Alec.

My comment has been misinterpreted and those who are against my views are making a playground of the situation. I have received the ridicule and hate mail accordingly, exposed in a way I have never been before. I have to admit, it is a real funny situation to be in; although I’m definitely more real than the person I was debating with (what was his name again… Mussie Zena?) and the Facebook personality who asked “The Stream” to have the debate (a faceless, nameless character that goes by the name of Revolt Asmarino), I’m hardly a person that deserves the opportunity to be ‘put in place’ by a supermodel. PRETTY AWESOME!!

Being on “The Stream” is probably the first time I ever been so exposed live on an international media outlet, and so I wasn’t exactly prepared for all of the publicity it has caused. …Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little when I say “all of the publicity it has caused.” It has only caused some virtual publicity, from those who are simply not on the ground nor have the courage to leave their computers and take real action. But still… it is all new for me. Although I am receiving tons of support from friends, the hate mail and threats are rolling in. I do understand that this is a normal phenomenon, but what I find particularly disturbing about it is that the very fake personality, Revolt Asmarino, that asked “The Stream” to do the show is the one that is spearheading this hateful campaign to defame me.

The day after I was on the show, “The Stream” had a program on “The Hunt for Liliane Khalil” and the investigation being done by Twitter users to find out whether or not Liliane is a fake personality/blogger. Viewing this program made me wonder why the show hasn’t tried to figure out who this Revolt Asmarino character is.  Revolt Asmarino has not only harassed me by writing threatening messages to and about me all over Facebook, he is abusing my Facebook profile pictures to defame and demoralize me as well. He is also going out of his way to go beyond Facebook, to other networks I belong to, so as to defame me there. Maybe this is a normal experience of all of the guests of “The Stream” but I wonder how many of their guests have been harassed by faceless Facebook personalities. I can’t help but to ask “The Stream” why is it giving such a platform to Revolt Asmarino, a person that only exists behind a computer monitor? I encourage all to take a deep look into the fake Facebook personalities who spread lies and cause havoc to the real revolutions happening on the ground.

So yeah… being part of the exclusive club of those who have been ‘put in place’ by supermodel Alec Wek has been a huge experience for me and a big eye-opener. Why were my comments so readily misinterpreted, why weren’t we talking about the real issues, and how could little ole Rahel get dissed by a supermodel? A very inspiring experience, indeed!

The haters are trying to demoralize me (to no avail of course) and I belong to the exclusive club of those who have been ‘put in their place’ by Alec Wek (LMAO!). This eye-opener has inspired me to start up this blog to talk about the real issues and why real revolution will not be twitted. Topics will range from a whole variety of youth issues, including peacebuilding, poverty reduction, migration, human trafficking, active youth citizenship, public interest diplomacy, Horn of Africa politics and the risk of being the good example.

Social media should be used to spread information and mobilize youth, not to demoralize youth so that they don’t take action to bring about progressive change. You may consider me as a reliable source especially since I am a real person, a youth activist living and working in Eritrea, unlike Revolt Asmarino types.

I hope you join me in this journey!

The Real Rahel

  1. Russom Semere says:

    Nice One Rahela. Keep on doing the good work you always do. You should be admired by the courage you take to inform people, but above all, you are admired by the real work you do on the ground. Stay focused as usual, no matter what your attackers say, remember that every morning you wake up, you are getting more stronger, more influential, and your contribution to your society is growing exponential.

    Do what you believe is right, and be proud of it. Me, I am proud of you.

    Russom Semere

  2. Petros Krocho Rossa says:

    Job well done Rahela, don’t be discouraged by those hatelatat. To those faceless rats, unfreind/block/ignore them.

  3. You claim you were miss understood by Alec Wek, misquoted by people writing against you. You claim you could not make what Mussie was saying. Finally like all PFDJ, you claim the media had impure motives “the program wasn’t to really talk about the main issues, just to give those against the Government of Eritrea a platform to continue their smear campaign against Eritrea” . You are on the right track to become a mature PFDJ.

  4. Rahel Weldab, starting a blog because you feel hurt is not a good idea. I mean if you want to start a blog you should really consider about 2015. Is your blog still going to be up and effective talking about “faceless” personalities like Revolt Asmarino in 2015? Are you really up for this job? Why are you in dire need to expose yourself evenmore? Will this be a good idea? Starting a blog? Think really hard about it. I think you should let the heat die out instead of beating the drums. Face it, you have comitted a blunder, dear Rahel. But we all make mistakes. We are all humans. I am sure, you are very smart woman or girl. You will decide to keep low profile and let this whole thing die out. You don’t need to be hated by Eritrean Youths around the world. You have been a little insensitive in your comments about the immigrating Eritrean young people. But to start a blog because of that is not good. It might be counter-productive. I mean they are already speaking about you as a politically opportunistic person. If you start writing in a blog, you will make more errors and attract more unintentional attention from “faceless” Eritreans who might be facing you at some point in life. You are young, Dear Rahel. Old people know Karma is not a positive thing. All things have consequences. So let bygones be bygones. Keep low profile, sweetheart!

    • therealrahel says:

      Nice try buddy! I’d give you a C+ for trying to intimate me into not writing. Whatever happened to the calls for freedom of expression?

      Regarding what faceless, nameless people like Revolt Asmarino can do to me in 2015… I have three words for ya: BRING… IT… ON!!!

  5. Amanuel says:

    Mrs Rahel AKA Isayas echo, you will be questioned for what you have said! dont worry time is will get at you.

  6. Samiel says:

    @ Rahel :.. Do you ask your self how why PFDJ chosen you to be activist ????? You are young believe in what is correct and correct never lie !!

  7. samuel says:

    You said it all Rahel. Last time I put the picture of PIA as my FB profile picure. To my surprise, my facebook wall is full of insults and threats. Not expecting such kind reactions, I went to the extent of deactivating my FB account. The funny thing is those people have bogus names and identities like Revolt Asmarino.
    keep doing the good work.

  8. samy says:

    Well Said Rahel,

    Glad you write this immediately before the scavengers like musie confused the people with their patetic disguising words.
    I always support that the government officials or diplomats do not respond to such poor, evil people hense they do pretend to be sympathetic to the people of Eritrea, but far from that as they work for their own motives and their personal or fictional interest.
    I always would like to say please be composed and resilent in such a public media and I do not know if it is worth if they use you for things that are not explained to you. when I watched at it, it’s like BBC hard talk.huh. The thing that made me lough was when I see him disconnected before he showered all his lies to the stream
    Who is he any way and for whom he does work, and why he is based in Ethiopia, which is the our worst enemy: demna keyneketse ms tselaetna.
    I swear people like musie are among the traitors, or those peaple who steal or mischief from the people and government of eritrea.

    Keep on doing the great job
    Reminded also to work for your people and your loved country.

  9. Samuel Ignu says:

    Hi, Rahel

    Just to let you know you are admired for what you did and taking the courage to face the idiotic Mussie zena and the fake identity rev-Asmarino and the streams team and the way you handle it was marvels. Keep doing what you do best which a great work.

  10. Aron T says:

    Rahel I may disagree with many of your points. But I would like to thank you for you to have the courage to be a part of the discourse. I’m sorry to hear that you receiving hate mail from Eritreans that don’t share your point of view. Please don’t mind this people; they don’t know what they do! They say that they want free speech, but when they do have it, all they do is bashing people and spreading hate.


    Aron T

  11. Neutral says:

    “…just to give those against the Government of Eritrea a platform to continue their smear campaign against Eritrea,…”

    Hi Rahel,
    I have heard a lot about you, and the work that you have done in Eritrea. Particularly with the orphans and school children, and I am very proud of you and of your passion in helping our people and our country.

    I would just like to ask, is it wrong for a person to have different or opposing views against a government? I think each and every human and certainly every Eritrean is entitled to their own thoughts and opinions. Why do you reflect opposing a government’s ways of running the country as opposing the whole of Eritrea? There are a lot of people who actually care a lot about Eritrea and have fought with their blood who just do not agree with the way the current government has been running the country. Are they not entitled to their opinions? (And I am not speaking of the fanatic opposition groups, but the people who genuinely want the best for their country Eritrea…).

    • therealrahel says:

      Thank you for your comment!

      Personally, I’m not opposed to people having opposing views against the government… NOT AT ALL! In fact, it is our duty as citizens to oppose the government when it is doing something wrong, and it is our duty as citizens to actively participate in alleviating the challenges we see to bring about the positive change we’d like to see happen. What I do think is very wrong is the current tactics being used by the so-called Eritrean opposition. They keep on talking about the same old rhetoric, copy-paste style, about what needs to happen but they don’t say anything about how such change should take place. And what’s worse, instead of talking about real issues, they are active in dividing the people in which ever way they can. The fanatics are not united in any sense of the word; they are divided among ethnic and religious lines that are not characteristic of Eritrea’s national culture. As young people, it is important that we understand their tactics so as to uphold our unity. We cannot and should not be differed by sub-national sentiments!

  12. therealrahel says:

    Although it’s completely irrelevant, you should know that I don’t have an American passport. The only nationality I have is ERITREAN.

  13. Everyone is of course entitled to his/her opinion and ventilate it at any forum. The programme leader of the stream should have defined the term “dictatorship” in the first place before questioning whether Eritrea is just like North Korea or not.

    North Korea is North Korea and Eritrea is Eritrea. No similarities at all despite the militarization of the both countries.

    I personally do not believe in “general elections” which are held under a hasty manner to please Babyloneans!Period. Genuine democracy and respect for human rights could only be envisaged once you have an educated population who would defend their rights, a functioning and prospering economy and strong democratical institutions like civic society and independent media.e.t.c.

    In the absence of these components, elections are deemed to fail and lead to ethnical and religious tensions. The examples of rigged and violent elections are many from Kenya/Ethiopia in the east to Senegal/Nigeria/Ivory Coast in the west, from Zimbabwe/Angola in the south to Libya/Egypt in the north e.t.c. where fragmentation on regional, reliogious and ethnical basis, have become the order of the day.

    I do not want my Eritrea to follow that path. People forget that Eritrea is still engulfed in a bloody war and the youth are in the army for such a long time because of that situation.Eritrea is not like any other “normal” country because of the current stalemate and tension which is taking its toll on the population. The fear of an American backed Ethiopian invasion is real and Eritrea has been vindicated lately.

    The Eritrean government has of course its shortcomings like any other government in the world but is doing its best to alleviate poverty and bring about a real change on the economic front. We have to have a solution for the conflict with Ethiopia before things could be normalized.

    The real Rahel did a great job under the circumsances that were prevailing during the programme. Eritrea is proud of you as much as I am! Keep up with the good work that you are doing!


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