January 18, 2014

Life in Eritrea

Life in Eritrea

Life in Eritreaby Berhane Woldu | Many people ask me as to why I choose to live in Eritrea after living for so many years in America.  America is a great country where you are provided with ample opportunity to be what you want to be with luck and hard work.

I am grateful to the American people who offered me refuge in times of my statelessness and friends who provided me assistance and guidance; their help made me what I am today. As much as I love and cherish America; Eritrea is the land of my fore fathers; it is where my ancestors come from, my great fathers were born and buried; like my fore father I would like to die in my ancestors land.

Eritrea as a developing nation has its limitation; light might go out some times, darkness befallen upon you the internet is slow, services are not adequate. But there is much to life; what mater in life is not what you have in material wealth but being happy. Eritrea is a beautiful place to live with its awesome sight, landscape, beautiful crystal beaches, over 300 islands and an inland of wild meadows, sky high mountains and fertile valleys. The culture is unique and the people are very hospitable. Life in Eritrea is much cheaper compared to America or Europe and less chaotic. One can travel from one end of the country to the other with minimum expense; short time and with no traffic congestion.

The life style of Eritreans is the same where ever one goes the six regions and nine ethnic groups have the same traditions and way of life.  In Eritrea it is more common to find people who follow two different religions but swore in the same ancestors. In some section of the society, Islam and Christianity are shared by people with common language, culture, history and ethnic origin. For example, the Blin has an intertwined community where by some of them speak the Blin language and are Moslems, while the rest of them speak the same language but are Christians and all sharing a common ancestor.

How Eritreans live and what is valued as the norm is much different from Western culture. The first and most interesting is that of the extended family life that underlay the countries social structure. It is normal to see many homes that have three generations living under one roof, with the grandparents as commanders in chief. The people are religious and very faithful and loving as they go to church and mosques one can see the unifying and calming effect of religion. Inviting one another in their homes for coffee ceremonies, visiting, hanging out with friends and relatives is a daily happing. Stopping to talk to someone on the street is normal sometimes blocking traffic yet no one seems to care or get upset. The community is egalitarian where the rich does not show off and the poor is nurtured and helped to be successful. The social value is one that promotes powerful, protective social structure capable of defending any and all challenges that come from the pressures of the modern material world. Three generational meals, talking to each other, walking on the streets for pleasure community life this is the conventional wisdom for living a long meaning full life

The cities in Eritrea are small and lightly populated for example AdiKyeh (city of reds) located in the Southern region lies one hundred twenty (120) kilometers at the highest plateau south of Asmara, the capital; in the foot hills of the historical ancient cities Kohaito and Metera. As you enter the city limit you will see the newly built College of Social Sciences its modern facilities are very impressive. The city is styled between a city and a larger village. The town is planned with a circle in the center. Facing the circle is the administrative offices. An archway to one side leads to a newly rebuilt church, the Madonna Our Lady of Perpetual (the old church was destroyed by the Ethiopian aggressors) to the right narrow stone steps run down hill to a magnificent Mosque.
For centuries, the peasants of AdiKyeh cultivated the fields in the valley below. The hill sides are built by closely huddled stone houses on a narrow streets running up and down the hillside. AdiKyeh is a place that lay outside everyday experience, where the normal rules as we know it does not apply.

Northern Red Sea Region with its “BLUE ENVIORMENT’ A frenzied sprawl of 1 million people it’s the second largest region in Eritrea. It’s also a place where you will find six ethnic groups live together in harmony with a sea shore of 1,100 kilometers long. An hour to ones travel and prior to reaching an island you are escorted by dolphins. From a sailor’s vantage point at the wheel of a vessels one can see the scattered Islands, its high rolling hills, the low houses, boats that lay in long decoration against beaches. Small fishing town spreads along the shoreline; Islands an endless series of pristine anchorages. My friend this is heaven on earth.

Barentu is the regional capital of Gash Barka Region largest region in Eritrea. It’s also a place where you will find eight out of nine ethnic groups live together in harmony. The trip to Barentu takes you through Central and Anseba Region and into Agordat with its beautiful serene landscape. Gash-Barka region is rich in base metal-rich volcanogenic massive sulphide deposit mineralization consisting of gold and silver. Be as it may; what makes Eritrea loveable place to live is not what it have in natural and national wealth but its people and their culture.

Asmara the capital city of Eritrea is a peaceful beautiful old Roman style city yet as young as 21 years young. The palm trees lined wide boulevards; sidewalk cafes and art deco architecture are the land mark of Asmara. Its pleasant climate makes it one of my most favorite cities in the word; no city comes close to its unique small size yet grand beauty. The residents of Asmara are amazingly in the evening hours the city boulevards are packed with people for a “passeggiata”; a decorous, dawdling, laid-back relaxing walk to see friends and strangers as they enjoy the effervescent pleasant evenings. In NY, Washington, Paris or any of the major European cities one has to fight traffic to get home. In Asmara it is a must that wherever you were be it at work or other runs the day ends with a daily ritual of relaxation “the passeggiata”.

What is happiness to you maters most; the thing I love about Eritrea is that it allows me to be happy. I do what makes me happy, travel around the country, visits with extended family, hangout with people I like. The principles of the world we live in and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are and who I am is part and parcel of my cultural Eritrean identity.

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