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Celebrating 10 years liberation
 
 

Asmara June 4th 2001

 

For the third time I have an appointment at 8 o' clock at the school of Solomon. Solomon is still trying to get a permit to visit Kagnew station. Doing my best to get there in time, I take a taxi. Solomon is 20 minutes late. Together we walk to the Den Den Military Camp, the present name of the former Kagnew compound. It is not clear to me if it is the friend of Solomon or the man in charge that is not available, but again their is no permit.

I walk to the Lufthansa office to confirm my flight next Saturday. The office is closed in spite of the opening hours on the door. The opening hours are obviously not binding. I walk to the nearby tank grave yard and the new district "Space 2001". Just like last year I am not welcome at the tank grave yard. A strict guard is tells me to get out with clear gesticulations when I try to picture one of the military vehicles, that now looks more like a flower bed. I wonder what it is that he is protecting. Maybe just his honor as a guard. Next time I will ask Feshaye to come with me.

After visiting the Lufthansa office for the second time, I visit another modern district, the Sembel Residentional  Complex a series of modern blocks of flats, close to the airport of Asmara. The area looks like captured by UN troops. Rows of UN vehicles for both transport and communications are parked in front of a big green office building that serves as the logistic headquarters of UN in Asmara. I ask one of the UN military if there is any chance to visit the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) with them. He tells me this requires a permit. Remembering the result of getting a permit to visit Kagnew Station, I decide to forget the trip to the TSZ.

I walk to the old part of the Sembel district, to the house of Mebrat's mother and brother Feshaye. I have no idea about the address, but I am lucky. Ghirmay, another Eritrean man living in Holland and now staying in Sembel recognizes me when passing with his car. He treats me to a sigh seeing in the area.

Feshaye shows me some of the schoolbooks he used at school in the 70's. In his geography book a "political map of Ethiopia" strikes my eyes. I compare the map with the Ethiopian claims in the recent border conflict. 30 years ago the Ethiopians were teaching their children the geography that is now the principles of the Eritrean territorial claims! I wonder what changed the Ethiopian perception of the border. I ask Feshaye if I can take his geography book as a souvenir and proof of Ethiopian inventions.

At 15:00 I have an appointment with Tesfai Zerom in the Bankers Bar just behind the commercial bank of Eritrea. It is the third appointment with Tesfai. I do not know why he keeps making appointments. He does not bring the surprising events he organized last year when I visited the Ministry of Information and several other places with him. The girls in the bar recognize me smile both friendly and shy. I try to picture them, but they crouched as soon as they observe the camera. I tease them by pointing the camera at them when they show up. One of the local men likes the show and rewards me with a coke. Tesfai is in a hurry. And so am I.

Daniel, an Eritrean painter will show me some of his paintings at 16:00. We  take the bus to the church of Saint Francesco, where he exhibits its work.

When I am walking in front of the China Star Restaurant, waiting for the restaurant to open, a boy comes to me. "Sir, I have this postcard of Asmara for you, because I like what you are doing for our country. I have written my name on the back of the card". He must have been referring to my t-shirt with congratulations in both English and Tigrinya.

 

Decorated house (celebrating 10 years of liberation) Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated house (celebrating 10 years of liberation).

Modern housing in the "Space 2001" district of Asmara Eritrea.

Modern housing in the "Space 2001" district of Asmara.

Modern housing - Sembel Residentional Complex Asmara Eritrea.

Modern housing - Sembel Residentional Complex Asmara.

UN logistic headquarters - Sembel Residentional Complex Asmara Eritrea.

UN logistic headquarters - Sembel Residentional Complex Asmara.

Wife and children of Feshaye in their little grocery shop in Sembel.

Wife and children of Feshaye in their little grocery shop in Sembel.

Part of the "political map" of Ethiopia in the 1970 geography book of Feshaye.

Part of the "political map" of Ethiopia in the 1970 geography book of Feshaye.

"Lady in blue" by Daniel G/Medhin

"Lady in blue" by Daniel G/Medhin
Ordering information tel + 291 1 11 99 63.

 

 
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