Keren - Eritrea and the babtism of
Mehretab - October 26 2014
In the early morning when the temperature
is still pleasant I walk the tared ring road southward at the foot
of mount Ziban, In Keren Lalay I pass a new
Catholic school under construction and other modern mixtures of building styles.Walking
through Keren I pass a variety of housing styles: traditional Bilen mud
plastered huts with their typical cone shaped roofs, square stone or
concrete white painted houses decorated with mosaic or dressed with
bougainvillea, and Italian style villas built by the Italian colonisers.
Minarets, Catholic domes and bell towers, Orthodox churches and even an
Back in the center I walk into a local bicycle race.
Cycling is popular in Eritrea. The smooth tared rads connecting the major
Eritrean towns provide a perfect training track for the Eritrean sportsmen
(and women). The public offers me a chair for a confortable view on the local
event through the main streets of Keren, that lasts for an hour.
When it is finished I resume my
walk to visit the hill that carries a huge candle in rememberance of the
many tens of thousands of Eritrean Martyrs and other victims who gave
their lives fighting for (1961-1991) and then defending (199-2000) the
liberation of Eritrea from crual conditions of Ethiopian rule (1952-1991).
In 1970 the nearby village of Ona was the scene of a massacre by the
Ethiopian army, during which the 750 villagers were all stabbed or burnt
in their huts.
temperature rises and therefore I stay close to the center where one will
find attractive cafe's and restaurants. My favorite is the pleasant outdoor area
shaded by trees in front of the Red Sea
Hotel overlooking Giro Fiori. From the tarace I watch present and past: Modern Chinese King Long
buses and recent Indian TATA buses compete with Italian old-timers
landcruisers, bicycles, camels, horse carts and donkeys. It is here in
Keren where Muslim blends with Christian culture, meeting in perfect harmony,
setting an example to the world. Children pass the tables
on the terrace selling peanuts or roasted chickpeas to the visitors of
this open air bar.
I watch the activity in the market
area and chat with the men selling various fruits grown in the nearby
Elabered agricultural estates and Agorgat banana plantations. No problem to make
after the chat. Before I leave I buy some fruit. Plenty of vitamine C for
lunch. I receive a free banana as a bonus.
At the clothing market I watch the tailors sewing Muslim style
white djelabea (dresses) and sirwan (trousers) for the men and black veils for the women, and brightly
coloured traditional dresses for the Christian women. The low roofs
overhanging the varanda's in front of the workshops are used to exhibit
the textile products, creating a colorful scenery.
After a small lunch with Hansu and Afworki I choose the other side of
town for a walk. Following the dry Shifshifit
river bed I climb the former railway
bridge to follow the imaginary railway track in the Asmara direction to Geza
Woreqet. It is not always clear where the train used to go because the
rails disappeared and the track itself detoriated, so I keep asking meself
the question "where would I go if I were the train?" It is the
less gradient wider route through the Keren outskirts.
Loud music attracts my attention to one of
the traditional houses. "Come in!" I am told that they
celebrate the baptism of a baby boy. In Eritrea the son will be baptized
after 40 days and a girl after 80 days. Today is the baptism ceremony of Mehretab, son of (father)
Eyob and (mother) Oqba. The occasion is celebrated with the family,
friends and neighbors. Visitors come in with Araki and other gifts. I feel
ashamed I came empty handed.
I am extremely touched when the mother asks
me to hold the baby so the photographer and video operator can add me to
the photo and video reportage of this joyfull event. Very careful I support the baby's
head and neck and pose for the camera's with the baby boy.
I join the coffee ceremony and make some
pictures. When I leave the house the parents show their gratitude for my
visit. Again I am touched. I should show them my gratitude for their
hospitality. I hope I will be able to find their house when visiting Keren
again in 2016 (the railway track will be my guide). And I should not forget to
bring something for the baby then.
New catholic school under
Kiddus Michael Catholic
Church - Keren Lalay Eritrea.
Temeshen Dukan (grocery
shop) - Keren Lalay Eritrea.
New built residentional area
- Nda Bila Keren Eritrea.
Administration of Keren -
Bicycle race / Public
library - Maeckelav
Ketema Keren Eritrea.
Memorial candle for
Eritrea's Martyrs - Keren Eritrea.
Anseba Region Catholic Cathedral - Center
of Keren Eritrea.
Universal Gold Smith -
Center of Keren Eritrea.
Tailors workshops - Souk
Tailors workshop - Souk
Shops and workshops - Center
of Keren Eritrea.
- Center of Keren Eritrea.
Telecommunications and post
office - Center of Keren Eritrea.
Restaurant Fickri and Selam
- Giro Fiori Keren Eritrea.
Vegetable and fruit market -
Souk Keren Eritrea.
Leveled uphill alley - Keren
Green topped minaret and
mosque - Keren
Traditional houses (Agudo's
or Tukuls) - Keren
Mehretab son of (father)
Eyob and (mother) Oqba.
Baptism of Mehretab - Keren
Oqba and baby Mehretab -
Baby Mehretab (40 days)
babtism ceremony - Keren Eritrea.
Al Shaba Mosque - Keren
Harat intercity bus - Keren