Today’s Q and A travels to the port city of Massawa to provide its readers with the 28th Fenkl anniversary participants’ impressions and memories. Generations present at the February 1990 operation and participants of its commemoration after independence have something to say.
- -Please introduce yourself with our readers and why you are here.
I am Biniam Semere. I am from the Campaign and Information Division of the Ministry of Defense. I have been here in Massawa for the last five days to celebrate Fenkl. I come early in order to see what the pre-celebration moments and preparations of the Fenkl look like. Strangely that is what thrills me the most. I find the celebration interesting for the communality of different ethnic groups. I am an active pilgrim with my camera.
- -Is this your first time to attend?
Definitely not! It is the fourth time I am attending this celebration. I feel ashamed to say this because it has been twenty eight years and I have been here only four times.
- -What are you trying to capture with your camera?
I always strive to capture the ethnic groups’ unity I witness every year. It is robust. Massawa’s people have a welcoming attitude; they reflect good hospitality to a stranger. I took several photos related to this moment.
- -Any messages for the youth?
I want to forward two-word message to the youth, ‘patience counts’.
- -And you are?
Hanae Mohammed Osman. I am from Asmara.
- – How does it feel to be a pilgrim of Fenkl?
You have no idea. It is my first time and I have always wanted to be part of this historic event of my country, and I made it this time. I really liked the atmosphere, the people, everything.
- -What have you seen so far?
I have been to the exhibition presented by the Ministry of Marine Resources. It was incredible. I was really impressed by the resources the Red Sea is holding underneath. I took my time to figure out some part of the Fenkl events and familiarize myself with the history behind it. It was really an interesting story to learn. As an Eritrean citizen it makes you feel really proud.
- -What do you recommend people in light of such events?
People should honor historic events of their country and take part in them as much as possible because, knowing your history really helps a lot in defining your identity.
- -Hello sir, would you introduce yourself and tell us why you are here?
Merhaba! My name is Kesete Beyene and I am here because I am a resident. I am celebrating this important date and its official ceremony. I have been in every corner of the city attending as many events as possible.
- -How long have you been here in Massawa?
As a matter of fact I am a freedom fighter, so you can imagine how long I have lived here. I work at the port. I was with the division of 70, brigade 20, battalion 3, back in the days.
- -So you remember everything related to Fenkl.
Truth be told, I did not fully take part in the Fenkl Operation because I had been injured in the battle of Asosa, but somehow I managed to move into it at its final stages. I recall it was a well-organized and unified operation. The particular military division assigned to carry out Operation Fenkl was super active, solid and organized and that is why it was successful.
- -How would you explain people’s role and that of freedom fighters deployed in the operation?
Wow. My companions, fellow freedom fighters, were highly spirited. Never looking back. I can say everyone was exceedingly courageous. And the Eritrean people were phenomenal. They were firmly united and the real leading power behind the freedom fighters in fields. They honestly deserve most of the credit. But yet again what I say is nothing new. Eritrean people always join hands for better or worse.
- -Hello Mother!
Hello. I am Mrs. Hana Mehari Weldemariam. I am a Massawa resident and we are here today at the official ceremony to rejoice in the commemoration of the heroic event of Fenkl alongside my beloved community of Massawa and my people from all over the nation and abroad.
- -What do you recall of Fenkl Operation?
Fenkl is really unique, my son. To this day, I have a clear picture of the three day long operation. The liberation of Massawa was the happiest moment of my life. The feeling of February 10, 1990 at 10 in the morning was exceptional for me and the people of Massawa. And so I remember it with mixed emotions.
- -So, how do you celebrate it every year?
I remember our martyrs and pay my respects every time. And with those who made it alive, we celebrate it with great enthusiasm every year. We are grateful and proud of our history. It truly is one of its kind.
- -Any last words Mrs. Hana?
In the last 28 years, families have found union and peace in our independence. We celebrate the day remembering our children whom we lost for the cause of liberation. We’re paying our tributes in ways they would expect from us.We are enjoying our freedom and the young are protecting and building our land to fulfill all social services we need. May Fenkl last forever.
- -Hello Tseghe, it is nice to see you here.
Hello. Let me introduce myself. My name is Tsege Tesfay. I am a musician and music instructor in the Ministry of Education.
- -You mostly play the saxophone, right?
I do. I am a saxophonist. You must have seen me play it in the Fenkl martyrs memorial minute of silence Saturday morning. It feels sensational to be part of this historic event. And I want to express my pride and appreciation to the Female Naval Force Crew. The military parade was stunning.
- -Was it your first time ever to be part of Fenkl celebration?
Yes it is my first time. But it made me feel that I shall be coming every year from now onwards. The atmosphere is captivating. I never knew people celebrate it in such manners. The places speak for themselves. It is great to be here.
- -Do you have any messages?
I do. Eritrean ladies should feel proud of themselves as they are strong at any given circumstances. I want to encourage young ladies to follow their dreams and do their part with the nation building. Be strong, girls!
- -Congratulations Mrs., are you enjoying the celebration?
Congratulations to us all! My name is Mrs. Zeineb Mohammed and I am overjoyed to be celebrating Fenkl with my people. What makes this year’s, 28th commemoration of Fenkl, special is the fact that we are celebrating it at the ending of our long struggle against conspiracies to damage the People and the Government of Eritrea. Despite hurdles of all types the people of Eritrea have been marching forward to preserve National sovereignty and development knowing that we’d eventually reach a stage of full prosperity. We are almost there, actually we’re where we’ve always strived to be. So my heartfelt greetings go out to my people.
- -How do you see the organization of the people of Massawa in celebrating Fenkl?
There is festivity in every corner of the city. The people are exceedingly organized to make sure this year’s celebration is memorable at all costs. Like, for example, we have been organized to clean our sea shores and, now, more than ever before with the flow of the people we are on a watch out to avoid piling up of garbage. We’re happy to welcome people who came to celebrate Fenkl.
- -Anything at the end, Mrs. Zeineb?
Congratulations to my people! Since our country came with huge sacrifice and martyrdom I remind the Eritrean people to be resilient and strong as ever.