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ብድሆ ኣንጻር ኣተሓሳስባና

 

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For the first time I was going to come face to face with many of the veterans of the Eritrean Revolution. I felt I was traveling decades back to the era of Jebha Abay and Shaebiya! I was not sure whether anything I would say would have any meaning to them at all- generational gap you may call it. I had packed a couple of ideas that I was unsure would get any reception.

I took the “risk” anyway. My flight was going to be a little more than one hour from London- fair enough after the long flight from Johannesburg two weeks before. I was warned about the casual service laced by brutal travel policy of the budget airline, RyanAir. So I set everything in order to avoid the brutality and took off….Before I knew it that familiar voice announced we were already over Germany and needed to prepare for descent. Are they freaking serious! There was no city around. Was this going to be a crush landing, I mean literally and metaphorically (for me). The sky was very clear and I could see the green and beautiful landscape around. But there was no big city around save the scattered gothic villages. What I knew a Frankfurt-Hahn airport was in fact two hours away from the city in the middle of German countryside- budget airlines! Anyway it was great to experience driving through lash green hilltops and gothic towns which took me back to the medieval ages and renaissance………

Frankfurt felt gentle and calm- contrary to the hassle and bustle of Johannesburg or London. There was a sense of space and accommodation and that was not a bad sign for an anxious fellow. We went straight to the venue of the seminar at the University of Frankfurt which is by the way a liberated zone- liberated from the occupation of followers of Isaiasism. Kudos to just seeker Eritreans in Frankfurt and Germany! I must say I was impressed by the story! Unlike in other meetings I could see many of them were already there hours before the seminar was set to begin. I didn’t know most of them and neither did they. So it was easy to mingle around and exchange pleasantries disguised as “home town boy”. For the first time in a long time I heard the various sounds, voices, and accents of my own people- it felt home.

The seminar began after introductions by the intelligent Assefaw Berhe. My indefatigable Bohashem, Ambassador Andeberhan, and myself spoke about the Pretoria Workshop in May 2014 which came out with a Declaration which is gathering momentum. The Pretoria Declaration highlights the tragic situation in our country, and outlines our collective responses. The seminar also discussed the progress already made following the release of the Declaration. The main thrust of the discussion was on how to implement the Declaration. We were surprised by the endorsement and by how the participants embraced the its ideas- for us very encouraging sign. Most of all I cannot forget the enthusiasm of the crowd, I have never seen such an audience that was so active for many hours, they beat us in that regard! 

Throughout the three-day event I was able to interact with many of the old veterans of our national struggle for independence and democracy, the Slueimans, Ammars, Mesfins, Idrisays, Asmeroms, Kerars, Alganeshs, Rezenes, Hailes, Dawits, Ibrahims, Degigas, Salehs, Osmans, and the many many more. They told me of their dreams and aspirations harboured in their hearts and minds. When I looked in their eyes I wondered what they saw throughout their rather painful life…… The wrinkles in their faces tell the story of their thoughts and dreams in their youth and twilight. Some of them had bullet-riddled bodies but still keep walking……Some of them met for the first time in many years and while I was with them they fade into distant memories as they talk about the audacity of their zihalefu comrades and about those they could not burry or rescue….They laugh about the eccentrics of others who gave their lives for a better Eritrea…..and Ahhhhh….. they conclude….yet no closure….! I thought about their own dreams and the trauma and pain they carry with them forever and the ungrateful fateful nation…..I wondered what the status of these veterans would be in other societies where most of them live now! I was touched to the core by their courage and love to their country. They pleaded with me that the new generation must reclaim the courage and rescue the dream for our own sake and for generations to come.

May the God Almighty forgive us for not honouring our heroes and heroines. Time and again we have belittled them and disrespected them for no good enough reason. Yes, their generation “betrayed” ours but these elders are the first victims of this evil authoritarianism. They had/have weaknesses and might have made mistakes but we are no better than them in that regard. They are the gallant of our struggle for freedom and our collective pride and identity is built on their sacrifices and it is only fair that we shall honour, respect, and thank them. For so long we have all betrayed each other and helped crop an evil dictatorship. It is time we reverse it and I saw some of this in Frankfurt. As the veterans still cry out for freedom and dignity for our people, so many young people are joining them. There was respect and magnanimity across generations and backgrounds. What a great scene to see the old Jebhas and Shaebiyas laughing together. That is how you build a nation. We are going through a painful history and dark times of our country but Frankfurt filled me with optimism. With this paradigm shift and renewed spirit of nationhood we can do it. Let’s get it done!

 

Thank you to the Eritrean Democratic Association and Thumbs up EPDP!

Thank you to all my new friends and compatriots- see you in Bologna after few weeks! 

We shall overcome!

Tesfalem 

13 August 2014