Eritrea: The Taste Of Bitter Truth

By IndepthAfrica
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Aug 27th, 2014
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The Taste Of Bitter Truth

You should be proud that YOU are Eritrean;
it is great to BE Eritrean, Right?
How many times have I not heard this? Maybe you hold this sentiment and do say these empty phrases?

I guess Eritreans are not unique as a people to think of themselves as great.
The only nation unofficially “not allowed” to think in those terms is post World War II Germany.
How do we measure greatness anyway? What makes one nation, a people greater than another nation?

There might be many reasons but In practical terms if we try to answer these questions,
there are specific factors that make a nation great, some of them historical,
like if ones ancestors were the Pharaohs, Mayans, Greeks then one automatically “is” great.

Another aspect is to do with natural resources and the venues
it opens for one nation to develop and create opportunity for growth.
When people tell me to be proud for being Eritrean, that we are a great people,
I always think to myself; for what?

When was the last time we Eritreans contributed to the advancement of humanity?
How many Eritreans are up for the Noble Prize?
Which internationally recognized work of art is produced by an Eritrean artist?
Are there any Eritrean role models alive that we as a people and/or younger generation can look up to?

If I am honest, the answer to these questions is a big NO but always to win an argument in a useless conversation
I would dig up heroines and heroes, while deep inside knowing,
that’s just me trying to apologetically find excuses for us- it hurts!

Find us to be a bunch of nostalgic emotional beings.
When we claim that “it is great to be Eritrean”,
we are not talking about development,
taking advantage of natural resources,
who we were in ancient history or anything along those lines.

We are talking about Hamid Idris Awate,
we are talking about all the thousands of martyrs we have lost in the thirty years liberation war and beyond.
Rightly so, we have to, this is part of our history!
And when I read Yosief Ghbrehiwet even that was a myth for us to unite and keep it together.
We might never really know what happened in the last battle to free
our beloved but the fact remains it is not about the last battle but the whole war.

And yes! It is the initiative of our forefathers standing firm to free their land and people
from oppression and the lost lives of our martyrs that help put Eritrea’s name on the map today.
I doubt though that this is what makes us great,
since when loosing thousands of souls in wars were a symbol of greatness!!?

I would argue that what makes my people great is that
we are the ultimate survivors on this earth;
we mastered the art of enduring pain.
While the guerrilla fighter was putting his/her life on the line,
many of us were fleeing for safety.
We were asylum seekers. We stood in UN queues for bread.
We were and remain strangers wherever we go.

We might have interacted with many cultures,
learned many languages, the fortunate of us
might have achieved high diplomas… etcetera, etcetera.
for many of us while holding on a dream that one day
our country will get better and we will make it great…
we will return back home to Eritrea.
But this remains to be a deviated dream.

Eritrea has been recognized as sovereign state for a bit over two decades now.
However, I still hesitate to use the words “free” and “independent”, for obvious reasons.

So far we have managed to have wars with all our neighbouring countries,
Still, people are getting killed in battles or by the regime,
Still, people are seeking asylum and even dying before reaching safety.

A wave of exodus that won’t stop, not just because of the brutal regime
but also because we have lost our sense of being at home,
we have lost our human dignity,
we have lost the ability to stand for the truth in side Eritrea’s border.
We are not the people God forgot but the people that have lost their compass.

People like me are shamefully frowning upon as Silent!
We actually do talk the most but our problem is both the regime
and the so called opposition alike.
Having a regime that is the enemy of the people
and more opposition group than ever always divided
and continuously subdividing, is not a promising picture.

Greatness shouldn’t be our worry just yet.
Maybe it is time we get down from our high horse,
and see things for what they really are.
If we always keep referring to the past,
if we just want to remember what was and never what is,
nothing will change.

This is why years pass by and times change,
and the dream of going back to Eritrea is still there,
reflected in every new year’s eve,
every Eid and every Christmas, with the usual wish of
“ان شاء الله السنه الجايه في بلدناً”
“ዝመጽእ ዘሎ ዓመት አብ ዓድና”.

As though the reason of our existence is to keep
the dream of going home alive- is this why we are here?
I wonder.

In the meantime, the prolonged exodus,
suffering of our people continues,
perished in foreign shores for many generations to come,
we will die before ever reaching home.

No tears left to shed, the only thing there is,
is the bitter taste of wrath. History records and never forgets,
one day we might be remembered as the people that died to live.

On October 2013, as part of the program of Eritreans manifestation for the Lampedusa tragedy, Bee Nasser wrote and read “The Taste Of Bitter Truth” in front of the Swedish Parliament.

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