Martha is an Eritrean Canadian. She lives in the diaspora but has come to Eritrea recently to see her nation after decades away. This article is about her experiences in Eritrea for the first time. – NUEYS English Editor
It’s been three months since my arrival in Eritrea, and the experience has been one that I will never forget. Upon arrival, I quickly learned that life here continues to evolve into its own unique form, and that despite the majority of its citizens being in the diaspora and abroad, we’ve all played a part in shaping our country into what it is today; whether it’s contributing for the nation at home or abroad in pushing for its development. Whatever roles each one of us has undertaken, the constant thread is that we are a selfless people that care deeply for our beautiful nation and the preservation of all that makes it to be such.
This theme is ever so evident in my many excursions across Eritrea, from Asmara to Keren, Mendefera to Dekemhare, Massawa, Kushet to Adi WerhiSeb and many more other cities and towns that are too many to mention. Whether it’s watching people at the Red Sea swimming during Fenkil festivities or watching villagers work together during harvest, seeing communities and villagers come together to support each other is a constant thread that truly defines the Eritrean identity. Throughout my short time here I’ve witnessed beautiful weddings and sad funerals, I’ve had my fair share of getting to know my country, the people and most of all my true identity. There has never been a dull moment, from laughing with strangers on the streets or just simply being swept up by a crowd of people wearing white traditional attire while beating the drums during holy festivals; there is definitely a cultural spirit here that is unmatched across the globe.
Every day or every other day there is something special going on in Eritrea that unites and brings people together, whether its Christian or Muslim, everyone seems to be in a harmonious symphony that can be heard echoed throughout the days and nights. During slumber you can hear the different religious leaders take their turns trumpeting sounds of chants and hymns that illuminate the night sky, while the chickens, roosters and the many dogs are heard in the background chorus; one always feels connected to nature and the spiritual world so as to never really feel alone.
These past three months have shown me so many wonderful moments and many memories to last a lifetime and if I had the chance I would stay longer to see and learn more. It would take a book to explain my time here, and even my explanation could not do this place justice as each person’s journey would be different from mine. One only has to come to visit to experience it for themselves to truly capture the spirit of our people, culture and country.
By: Martha Gebru Weldesellassie