Keren Eritrea - May 27th 2007
Yesterday I walked in the NW
direction, today - Sunday - I choose the NE outskirts. I follow one of the
streets that passes the many traditional houses in this part of Keren. Two
older women and two children, all in beautiful dresses walk in front of
me. Curious where they are going, I follow them on a distance. Suddenly
they leave the main street, to descend to their house.
When I continue to follow the
street, they ask me to follow them into their house. They just came from the
church, where the children had a confirmation of their Baptism. The feast
is celebrated with the family and they want me to be their guest. Like yesterday,
the family makes sure that I have the best seat. We drink coffee and I am invited to
eat with the men.
To my surprise they tell me
that I have been
their guest before, ten month ago when they were participating in the Zoba
Anseba section of the Festival
Eritrea 2006 in the Asmara Expo (Tigre national troupe). They remember
me from this happy event, and ask if I will visit this years Festival. I
would very much like to, but it is very uncertain that I get permission
from my employer for a two weeks leave so soon after this holidays.
When I am on my way back to the
center of Keren, I pass a small shop (Dukan) not far from the house of
Afworki and Hansu. The shopkeeper and his
sister ask me to come and sit with them. They offer me a chair and want to
know where I come from. When I tell them I'm from Holland, the young woman
replies: "I like Holland!" It is immediately clear to me that
she is dreaming of future in the EU.
I ask her why she likes
Holland. From her answer it is clear that she thinks that living in
Holland is equivalent to getting rich and wealthy or at least meeting opportunities
to reach these objectives. I ask her
what she is going to do in Holland. "I will study", she answers.
"In what language?", I ask her. "It cannot be in
Dutch". I guess I broke her dream. "Find me a husband", she
tries. I write her name and address on a piece of paper and continue my
At the bus station I have my
daily ration of vitamin C in the form of zeitun- and lemon juice. The
fruits are local products and therefore fresh, cheap, and healthy.
Children sell small bags with roasted peanuts for a Nakfa. When I try to
picture them, they hide behind the buses. An old man is selling dates. I
wait till it is time to go to the wedding, watching the buses come and go,
teasing the children with my camera.
At 14:00 I am in bar
restaurant Stuttgart, exactly in time. I am one of the first guests. Rahel
and Hidat are re-arranging the chairs and tables. I help them a bit. One hour
later the feast of Tesfalem en Seghen, the marrying couple, starts.
Speeches, diner, music and dance, the wedding cake, and just before 17:00:
the closing ceremony: the bride and bridegroom make a last dance,
surrounded by most of the visitors. Money is collected in a colored bowl.
My feet are ready to dance. I
put my shirt back into my pants, and respond to the challenges of Hidat
and Rahel to join the dancing crowd, before it is to late and the party is
over. Body language, both from the people on the dance floor and those
staying behind on their chairs give a clear signal: "thank you for
sharing these joyful moments with us!"
I wish Tesfalem and Seghen a
happy marriage, and leave the restaurant with all the other guests. I am surprised to see the
couple leave in Afeworki's car, with Afeworki driving it. Afeworki is surprised
as well. He tells me Tesfalem is one of his nephews. It's a small world
here in Keren.
For the first time since I
came to Eritrea I experience some good rains. It makes the evening nice
and cool, wonderful for a perfect nights rest.
Traditional house - Keren
Modern house with colorful
mosaic facade - Keren Eritrea.
Children celebrating their
second Baptism - Keren Eritrea.
Coffee ceremony with a Keren
family - Keren Eritrea.
Celebrating Baptism with a
Keren family - Keren Eritrea.
Shopkeeper - Keren Eritrea.
Bus (former railway) station
- Keren Eritrea.
Wedding feast of Seghen and
Tesfalem - Keren
Seghen and Tesfalem, just
married - Keren
Musician playing the Krar at
the wedding feast - Keren
End of the wedding feast - Keren