ሓሙስ, ሕዳር 30, 2023

OPINION:- Eritrean Writers and the Struggle to Reflect the Totality of Our Existence

Have Eritrean writers failed as credible authors? In a society that has faced immense political instability and social trauma, do Eritrean writers have the luxury of translating books of exhausting self-help tips or writing about typical love stories, mundane dramas, or rational and idealistic life story contents that obscure the harsh realities of life? As a society, we must question whether Eritrean writers have done justice to the totality of our existence. What constitutes a respected author? Do we even have authors?

Take me on a journey through your narration that portrays the painful experiences of Eritreans who were raped multiple times in a single night for days in the deserts of Sinai-Libya, and of those who were forced to give up their kidneys as described in the book “EZI WN” by Merhawi Woldemichael. Make me feel their pain, fear, and trauma and remind me of the horrors that still plague our society.

Let me delve into the painful narratives of Alienation/disconnection, stagnation, uncertainty, psychological trauma, existential confinement and a sense of aimlessness that are described in the book “KALIE SLE ZEYELO” by Abraham Tesfalul. Moreover, the book depicts the agony and sorrow of war through the experiences of a soldier, a mother, a child, and others. Allow me to feel the weight of these emotions as I read your words.”

In the same way that Sara Belay portrayed the dysfunction and crisis within the EPLF Gedli in her book “TSELAM SANDUQ,” show me in your narration the breakdowns among guerrilla fighters. Craft a narrative that illuminates the marginalization, resentment, polarization, divisions, and prejudices that existed among these fighters. Along with their bravery, write about the horrors of trench warfare and portray them as human beings. Highlight the psychological effects of war, including depression and anxiety, as well as the (post)traumatic experiences they endured.

Allow me to sit with Yirgalem Fisseha in her prison cell for just one night, let alone for six long years, and witness her tears, frustrations, prayers, and hopes. Although she has beautifully conveyed her experiences in her two books (“ALEKU” & “ZEYBEREYE GODNEY”), other writers may be able to craft the stories of those journalists who have been imprisoned for decades. Paint me a portrait of the disorientation, confusion, and overwhelming sense of meaninglessness that grips one’s very soul in such a desolate and unforgiving place.

Despite his brainwashing indoctrination, Dessale Berekhet’s short commentaries vividly depict the reality and dilemma faced by Eritrea. I watched selected parts of journalist Mehari Abraham’s interview conducted by Seltene Girmay on the Tefetawi talk show. Although it may seem repetitive argumentation (Argumentum ad nauseam), it reflects our reality. As a society, we must listen attentively and contemplate deeply on the harsh realities and tragedies we face. Temesgen Tewelde’s beautiful clip, titled ‘Message to Eritrean Singers’ on Facebook, emphasizes the importance of expressing ourselves with courage, distinguishing between reality and illusion, and challenging misleading beliefs and perceptions. It is crucial to speak truthfully, even if it may be difficult or uncomfortable. Furthermore, ዳኒ ወዲ-መምህር’s YouTube content is thought-provoking and insightful. I salute him for the profound thoughts and emotional depth exhibited in some of his videos (like ‘WAGA HADE ERITRAWI’). In conclusion:

Let us break away from the illusory veil and the shackles of rational and idealistic literature that obscure the harsh realities of life – the unavoidable pain of suffering and the inevitable specter of death. I choose to embrace reality in its true and unfiltered form because it is not only our thoughts but also our emotions that define us as human beings. I refuse to accept narratives that aim to simplify the complexities of our surroundings. True literature should reflect the totality of our existence. Our literature ought to explore the human condition, providing insight and facilitating emotional connections. It’s time to move beyond self-help books and novels that sugar-coat the complexities of love and the trivialities of daily life. Let us evaluate literary works based on their ability to depict the human experience, with all its joys and sorrows. As Eritreans who are no strangers to tragedy, let us confront the horrors of our personal existence.

These are thoughts that emerged after I read a post by Henok Tesfabruk on Facebook. Henok’s reflections on his 44th birthday brought to light the unfulfilled aspirations, stagnation, and disappointment that many Eritreans can relate to. This made me question whether Eritrean writers have failed as credible authors, particularly in a society that has faced immense political instability and social trauma. Writing about trivial matters like typical love stories and mundane dramas or translating self-help books that obscure the harsh realities of life does not do justice to the pressing issues and existential crises facing our community. If we sideline these issues, then what is the point of writing at all? Eritrean literature must evolve to showcase the failures faced by our people and the unimaginable atrocities inflicted upon them, including the unfulfilled aspirations of individuals, the stagnation, the mental exhaustion resulting from prolonged political stress, the lack of meaningful social relationships, and the lack of direction that have become hallmarks of our existence as Eritreans.

Let us avoid mediocrity, for literature that is merely mediocre falls far short of what we deserve.

P.S.: The books I mentioned are just a few examples that quickly come to mind.

Disclaimer | መተሓሳሰቢ

The views and opinions expressed in " Eritrean Writers and the Struggle to Reflect the Totality of Our Existence " are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Setit Media.

ኣብዚ " Eritrean Writers and the Struggle to Reflect the Totality of Our Existence " ዘርእስቱ  ጽሑፍ ተገሊጹ ዘሎ ርእይቶን ሓሳብን ናይቲ ጸሓፊ/ት እምበር መትከላትን መርገጽን ሰቲት ሜዲያ ዘንጸባርቕ ኣይኮነን።

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