Eritreans in the diaspora strive to remain as industrious and loyal to their home country as those of us who are residing in the homeland. This is quite a special popular attribute, because people who are scattered from their motherland normally end up being vulnerable to erosion of national and socio-cultural values, especially given the overall contemporary experience. The contribution of Eritrean nationals abroad from the very beginning of the armed struggle for independence, all the way to the on-going steadfast experience of safeguarding Eritrea’s sovereignty, both militarily and politically, constitutes a significant part of our history. Especially in the course of the past two decades, where Eritrea experienced perpetual and prevalent diplomatic hostilities, nationals in the diaspora have remarkably backed their people and country financially, and most importantly made the voice of Eritrea heard by engaging themselves in all-round diplomatic activities. Today, NUEYS presents you an interview which is conducted in the form of ‘questions and answers’ (Q&A) with a fellow national who lives in Canada and has actively been supporting national resistance against external conspiracies.
Q: Please introduce us with yourself?
A: My name is Dawit Werede. I was born in Ethiopia, where I grew up too. I am one of the innocent Eritreans who were deported in 1998 by the Ethiopian regime just following the onset of its military offensive against Eritrea. I was 20-years-old at that time. I joined the 11th Round National Service in 1999, and thus I had military experience during the third offensive, which took place in the year that followed. Currently, I am living in Calgary, Canada.
Q: What is your impression as regards the belligerent deportation of innocent Eritreans from Ethiopia?
A: I don’t even want to have the memories of this experience back to my mind but I can’t avoid it for it is part of my personal journey. I have never heard of an event of this type in history. The inherent cause of the sufferings perpetrated on us was just the fact that we are Eritreans. Majority of the innocent people who endured such sufferings were children, mothers, seniors, and people who suffered serious ailments. I have no words to express it. There are various terrible cases in this connection with this mass deportation. I remember an eyewitness telling me about a national who was deported from an operation room before his surgery of amputation was complete. He came home without his incision being stitched and dressed. Oh, there are many untold stories of harassments from that experience. I am saying this even without taking into account the psychological and other impacts of it. However, I felt proud of my Eritrean identity immediately as I set foot on Eritrean soil. I had once been in Eritrea earlier, but that experience was unique. We were accorded with a warm reception by fellow nationals and our army that the experience induced on us greater sense of nationalism and pride.
Q: Can you tell us about a special incident in relation to your military experience of the third offensive in 2000?
A: On the 24th of May, the army unit whom I belonged to was moving from Barentu to the Adi-Keih area, and we passed through Bahti-Meskerem Square while it was hosting a celebration for our National Independence Day. I remember a crowd standing up and clapping their hands in honour of the patriotism of the Eritrean army. The mothers were ululating with steadfastness. The experience cannot yet be explained in words. It clearly demonstrated the resilience of the Eritrean people in the face of such a challenging time. The memory of this incident never fades from my mind.
Q: How long has it been since you resided in Canada, and how challenging was the new lifestyle to you?
I have been living in Calgary, Canada, since 2007. I had to face the demands of the new lifestyle alone, coupled with the responsibility of supporting my family who was in Eritrea. However, it was not a completely overwhelming life encounter. I could finally survive as I was already adapted to many forms of life challenges. The life experience I had acquired from Eritrean national service had also its own merits in this regard.
Q: We have heard about Kendel Media, a U-Tube Channel of many followers that you own. Why and how was this channel launched?
A: It is surprising to learn about what is told concerning Eritrea abroad. Most of the time, such distorted accounts originate from wrong understandings of mislead people, and often in an organized way. So, my friend Biniam Semereab (Nickname: Vainak) and I decided to make our modest contribution in combating this smear campaign. Our pursuit was mediated through a Facebook page in the beginning, and we later enhanced our work by creating a U-Tube channel. The sole goal of this channel is reflecting the right image of Eritrea and the genuine understanding on the part of Eritreans concerning Ethiopians as a whole. The income of this channel is also dedicated to the Trust of Eritrean Martyrs.
Q: May you tell us about your friend Biniam (Vainak)?
A: Biniam is a fellow national with substantial political awareness. He used to promote the image of Eritrea precisely within the sphere of the Ethiopian social media by using an alias which helped him to be regarded as an Ethiopian. Many people were wondering about his deep knowledge on Eritrean affairs. Finally, when the TPLF left Addis Ababa, Biniam revealed his real identity and left the Ethiopian social media.
Q: How do you rate the impact and outreach of your channel vis-à-vis people’s feedback?
A: We believe that it is in a good status. We often have many positive feedbacks. And since we notify our audience through online notifications that the profit of the channel goes to the Trust of Eritrean Martyrs, we have many subscribers and followers. Hence, we handed five thousand Canadian dollars to the Embassy of Eritrea in Canada previously, and now I came home with seven thousand Canadian dollars, which is already deposited to the bank account of the Trust of Eritrean Martyrs.
Q: What was the core motivation when both of you decided to honour the Trust of Eritrean Martyrs through Kendel Channel’s income?
A: The lifestyle we have is very taxing indeed. We have to work for long hours just for subsistence; however, we are yet self-sufficing. As for me, I always think of the needs of the children of our fallen heroes while I work day-and-night and manage to meet the needs of my children. Just like all nationals, I always feel indebted to the tribute of our martyrs. As we know, supporting their families is one means we can prove that we are living up to the expectations of the fallen heroes.
Q: Would you like to share the future plans of Kendel Channel?
A: Managing a channel demands considerable expenses. This is on top of the personal efforts and level of time it calls for. The costs of software, editing, internet and other services it entails are considerable. Therefore, in a bid to cover such expenses, we have already launched a new U-Tube channel, Buya, ensuring that it features many programs and targets Tigrinya speakers. The principle we pursue is that we shouldn’t deduct even a penny from the gross income of Kendel Channel, i.e. to cover any operational cost thereof.
Q: Would you like to add any final words?
A: I would like to take this opportunity to thank my friend Biniam for being on my side since the conceiving of the channel’s idea. I would also like to express my appreciation for all my subscribers and followers of Kendel Channel, especially professionals who, as guest speakers, offered to share their analyses and opinions with our audience.
Q: Dawit, we appreciate your willingness to conduct this interview. We wish you further accomplishment in your future endeavours.
A: Thank you.