Friday, July 6, 2007

Book review of my book. Reviewed by Hellen Tesfamariam

Review: "Eritrea - Colors in Motion" by Issayas Tesfamariam & Philip Safarik

Whenever I travel to Eritrea, there are always 1000 pictures I wanted to take but either didn’t have the time to or didn’t have my camera. "Eritrea – Colors in Motion", is a pictorial depiction of Eritrea. It is a book full of all the postcards you never bought, buildings you didn’t quite appreciate before, and areas you hadn’t explored, bursts of color everywhere. The pictures show Eritrea’s people living and working in their respective environments – Christians, Moslems, young, old, traditional, modern, urban and countryside. On page 12, there is a picture of a family spanning three generations – it is interesting to note the hairstyle, the clothing and the shoes – each tells a story.

Eritrea is a country where Christians and Moslems live side-by-side in peace – their lives and livelihood intertwined, forging forward towards progress and prosperity. This is beautifully depicted in the pictures – on the streets, in the markets, mosques and churches. Glimpses of archaeological finds in Senafe, historical architecture in Massawa as well unexpected treasures like the Sei Centos at a driving school in Asmara, entices both the newcomer and seasoned visitor to explore the rich history of Eritrea.

Just like the award winning picture on page 24, many stories are gleaned from many of the pictures. Not all of Adi Keyih has running water and pictures on pages 30 to 33 tell us that. The donkey carries two plastic 5 gallon water containers, the indomitable camel looks like he is carrying eight, probably headed to market, while a young girl waits to fill up one for her family's use, I suppose. I notice that plastic has replaced the traditional clay containers and soon, when running water is accessible from every home, gone will be this way of life, only to remain in our memories, written in books and portrayed in such pictures!

Trapped in a time-warp due to the long struggle for Independence (1961-1991), most of Eritrea’s development was at a standstill until the 90's. Now, things are rapidly changing - we are witnessing a nation in-flux and "Eritrea – Colors in Motion" tells the story of the people and the country in 2006. I truly believe if a similar book is released 5 years from now, the pictures will be telling quite a different story.

The pictures mostly cover highland Eritrea, Keren, Sawa and Massawa and the quality of each picture is impeccable. Each time I pick up this book, I "see" a different story of the Eritrean people. Kudos to Issayas Tesfamariam and Philip Safarik and I am anxiously awaiting their upcoming "Eritrea DVD Project: a series of documentaries on Eritrea"!

Get your copy of "Eritrea - Colors in Motion" at http://www.lulu. com I truly recommned it as an addition to your coffee table collection.

Hellen Tesfamariam