Thursday, March 27, 2008

E R I T R E A: sketches of a trip
Issayas Tesfamariam

Sketch One
After spending a couple of days with family members, I discussed with the director of Research and Documentation Center (RDC), Mrs. Azeb Tewolde, as to how to follow up on the previous projects that were started. I also checked the various documents and suggested various ways to preserve them. Every time I visit the RDC, I am flabbergasted by the wealth of documents archived there. For example, in the Ethiopian Collection, there are files of Ethiopian security reports on the activities of Idris Hamid Awate, reports of activities and lists of students during the Federation Era. There are also reports of the Ethiopian Consulate in Kassala reporting on the activities of Eritreans in Kassala in the 1960’s and much, much more.
During my first week stay in Asmara, I met my friend Senai Woldeab, a young Eritrean attorney (see his interview on my blog). He also introduced me to his group of friends who are highly talented and professional young people who are helping Eritrea in various capacities such as doctors, accountants, geologists, chemists, advisors to ministries, etc. I am glad to report that I see the future of Eritrea in these and other young people and the future looks great. One of the young people that I met, Dr. Bereket Tewolde, is a chemist and he is involved in collecting data of the various plants and their medicinal applications in traditional care and analyzing them scientifically (check out my blog: for the upcoming conversation with this young brilliant chemist soon). Dr.Bereket has come up with perfume extracted from chomer (Ocimum) plant.
I saw some of the research that these young people did on their own( some pictures are provided below). For example, they researched, interviewed the descendants and documented in a video documentary about the people who were involved in the translation of the bible to Tigrigna. They also produced pamphlets, brochures and calendars. It must be noted here that the first Tigrigna bible took 66 years to translate. The translation is a milestone because the impact of this translation on the development of Tigirgna and its literature is very substantial. Among the many prominent pioneers in Tigrigna literature were Aboi Woldeab Woldemariam (Welwel).
I also heard a lot of other research that they are doing such as the story of Mr. Zere Bekit, who traveled to Italy (by foot through Sudan, Alexandria, Egypt, and from there by ship to Italy) in 1909. After he arrived in Italy he became a business owner in the middle of Rome during First World War! Mr. Zere Bekit returned to Eritrea in 1916 during Italian colonialism and wrote an autobiography of his odyssey!
On the weekend of my first week stay in Asmara, I filmed the family (about 10 people) of the first Eritrean pilot. He received his pilot’s license in 1928 in Italy! What a fascinating story! You have to wait for my documentary on this story.

Keshi Teweldemedhin G/medhin one of the translators at the age of 20. Keshi Teweldemedhin G/Medhin spoke twelve languages.

Keshi Teweldemehdin G/medhin's original translations.

Interview with Wzr. Aberash Yehdego, the widow of Aboi Woldeab Woldemariam.

The late Aboi Woldeab Woldemariam and his wife, Wzr. Aberash Yehdego.

Young Eritrean scholars ( including a Georgetown University law graduate) learning at the feet of Eritrean elders.

Interview with Keshi Musa Aron.

Next on Eritrea: sketches of a trip: Ride in the Clouds.