The sad, sad story behind Biniam Girmay’s triumph

We – like everyone else – have been celebrating Biniam Girmay Hailu’s victory. His success has set the bar high for all African cycling and is rightly being acclaimed.

But it is sad to see this triumph ridiculously (but hardly unexpectedly) hijacked by the Eritrean regime. Is there no depth to which President Isaias will stoop?

Amid the coverage there is this claim from Tesfanews on Twitter.

If Tesfanews was only prepared to tell the whole story, but they are not.

The “School With Sport“ projects aimed at improving the health and education of children in needy countries were initiated by the Italian Pondini Foundation.

The Foundation explained how it came about:

“Children and young people, who live in villages far away from school, should be facilitated the access to education and reintegration into the school system in an attempt to lower the school drop-out rates.

The project is sponsored by the Italian Government.

The first initiative under this project was realized in 2010 in Eritrea. 700 bicycles were donated to the students of the St. Francis School in Massawa.”

So far, so good. Isn’t it wonderful that parents and the Italian government have done so much for their cycle loving children? But here’s the catch. Along with other schools run by the church it was closed by the government.

Parents with bicycles at St Francis School Massawa


Closing Catholic Schools

This is explained by the Eritrean Press 

Eritrean Press – Eritrean government took San Francis and St Joseph schools in Massawa and Keren 07 Sep 2019 – (EP)

The Eritrean Marxist regime has taken possession of San Francis school in Massawa (pictured) and St Joseph in Keren from the Catholic Church on 03 September 2019.

The Eritrean government, with the proclamation of 1995 issued “to regulate the activities of religions and religious institutions”, in which it said that “religion and religious institutions, except for social activities allowed to them by the government, all development and social activities are the domain of the government.

The proclamation also allows If religion and religious institutions want it and in the possibility to finance works of development and social activities, they will be able to do it, but they will not in any way be able to make them in their own.

The San Francis school was inaugurated nearly 10 years ago with the government ‘blessing’ and had given many years of praiseworthy service to the local community without difference of race, sex, language and religion. St Joseph school started giving service since 1949, to all sex and religions.

The rude Governor

Perhaps this should have been foreseen. Consider how the Governor reacted when he was shown round the school.

Visit to the Governor of the Region at the San Francesco School.

“After several invitations addressed to him and promises made to us and continuous postponements, the Governor of our Region, Brigadier General Tekle Lebsù, on January 15 c. to. he came to visit our school; school as a complex, school as pupils.

The inspection tour began with the “rediscovery” of the inauguration stone of our school, where a pretty little girl offered him a bouquet of flowers.

The inspection tour continued with a visit to the auditorium where the theatrical representation for Christmas and the New Year was being performed. The noble guest spent several minutes with the boys during which he addressed words of encouragement to continue studying as the only way to succeed in life. “Eritrea needs educated people for its growth and you will be the architects!”. Those spoken by our dear guest might seem like just words of circumstance, but who says that the future of a country does not belong to young people?

After the meeting with the students in the auditorium, we went to the hotel school complex, for which, unfortunately, we have not yet obtained the ministerial clearance to open it. The Governor, like other visiting personalities, was amazed how such a well-equipped environment did not receive the approval of the Authorities. Here too the promise to take care of it personally for a solution of the case: who knows!

After the tour of the hotel school complex, the four school laboratories were visited: physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, and the library. And of course the classrooms with pupils inside. Always a lot of applause, always a lot of encouragement for how we are at the forefront of everything!

A visit, that of the Governor, made all in a hurry, at the end of which we were not even able to offer him neither a coffee nor a drink, because he was pressed by other appointments.”











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