Whenever June 20th approaches, Eritreans in the homeland and abroad pause in unison and remember their fallen heroes and heroines. I’m here and am able to write this because of what my fellow courageous Eritreans did throughout this country’s important history; they defended it and gave their life for it. They were the most determined spirits the world had ever seen. They refused to kneel down before the treacherous acts of colonialists, imperialists, aggressors and perpetuators of injustice. They stood bravely and fought till the last breath and bestowed freedom and peace to their people. It is for these reasons that on June 20th, we, Eritreans, collectively and in our own ways remember and celebrate our martyrs.
Music is one of the ways we remember Eritrean martyrs by. Music inspired our freedom fighters and was a tool the front used to agitate and recruit young people in the fight for freedom. As war dragged on, music never stopped being a potent force in the fight for independence, with singers often using metaphors or allegories to get their points across.
Last week, Zinar Art Center held a show in tribute to our fallen heroes. The Art Center was the main organizer of the show held on Friday afternoon on the streets of Markato. Mr. Indreas Asmerom, head of Central Region’s Department of Culture and Sports, said on the occasion that we, Eritreans, have a duty to know and enjoy the life we now have to be able to fully understand the sacrifices our martyrs made for us so that we can stand united as an independent and free Eritrea. Once we understand those sacrifices and our duties as citizens of this peaceful land then we can fully repay our martyrs, their families and our land. Mr. Indreas went on to highlight the significant role our music, poems, and art played in bringing about our independence. Our history is indeed documented in our music and poems, which inspiringly paint a full image of what our freedom fighters went through for 30 years of protracted war against the enemy.
The outdoor show was attended by the Governor of Maekel region, Major General Romedan Osman Aweliayay, Ministers, and guests from all walks of life. It truly captivated its audience, created a somewhat mystic bond with each passerby, who stopped on their tracks and joined the crowd to watch the show.
The vicinity of Markato was decorated with mottos and pictures that reflected the freedom fighters’ courage and heroic acts. “Always remember our Martyrs; let’s repay them through our promises”, “Our Martyrs, Our Heroes” were some of the slogans displayed on the walls, which themselves tell stories through their cracks as they have seen the Italians, the British, and the Ethiopians pass by on those streets, they witnessed young Eritreans, women and men getting hanged by oppressive colonial rulers. Yet ever so hopeful they stood the test of time and saw independence, a mother and son embracing each other on a faithful Friday morning 28 years ago. Last Friday, those same walls stood there and saw their rightful owners being celebrated.
Our Tegadelti came face to face with the best trained and the largest army in Africa, well-equipped with all types of weapons bought at the expense of a starving people. The Ethiopia’s famine of biblical proportions did not deter the enemy from arming its soldiers to the teeth to fight a long and bloody war.
The small armed Eritrean units that began the resistance grew by the day and were joined by hundreds of thousands of youngsters, ready to pay the ultimate price for freedom. The freedom of Eritrea demanded tremendous sacrifice in human lives and limbs and material damage.
The enemy moved accompanied by tanks, Stalin organs, Migs and bags of lies and propaganda. Where are the bandits who want to destroy our Abiot (Revolution)? They snarled. They couldn’t see the bandits for the people. So they said, all are against our Revolution. They all deserve to be exterminated!
Napalm bombs and plenty of cluster bombs for good measure. The more they bombed, the more they made martyrs, and the shorter the time left for them to lay down their arms and leave.
Again, more troops, this time with colorful uniforms and amusing platoon and brigade names: the Kitaw was supposed to punish the freedom fighters for their insolence, the Nebelbal was supposed to consume with a blazing fire those who resisted; the Tewerwari was the panzer division or a deployment force. Alas, all disappeared in the sands of Sahel along with their bizarre names and funny ideas.
The Eritrean mother was waiting for her son or daughter to come back in triumph. When she heard the shrieking sound of the jet fighter zooming overhead, she hesitated for a second, but suddenly she realized that the price had been paid somehow. She waved her clenched fists at the fighter plane that disappeared into the horizon with a mission to kill her son or daughter.
The show which officially began with a minute of silence to remember those sons and daughters, saw a poem read by Mateos Abraha titled “In this Memory”, followed by a performance by Merry Gebremichael who sung “Meriet Enagohare” originally sung by the talented Abeba Haile. The evening witnesseded performances by Central Region Traditional Cultural troupe as well as Walta, Harena and Mechanized Division cultural groups. The famous Tesfai
Mehari also made an appearance during the show, singing “Harbena Merhai”.
The show continued into the evening hours of Friday with numerous artists and individuals making an appearance.
Eritreans in the homeland have always attended outdoor shows. People have attended Independence concerts for years. Yet the Zinar Art Center event represented something different by many orders of magnitude. In other words, this was much more than a concert or a show. It was Eritrean solidarity and a sense of togetherness at its peak; connected citizens of free and independent Eritrea.