“THE STRUGGLE OF MAN AGAINST POWER IS THE STRUGGLE OF MEMORY AGAINST FORGETTING”
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Millan Kundera (one of my favorites)
Pastor Haile Naizghi detained 10 years ago. Crime: he refused to abandon his faith in Jesus Christ.
Lest We Forget Them! Our parents used to say “Niacha interesiE Amlach YiresiAni” (May God forget me if I forget you).
“The first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory. Destroy its books, its culture, its history, Then have somebody write new books, manufacture a new culture, invent a new history. Before long the nation will begin to forget what it is and what it was. The world around it will forget even faster……The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”
Pastor Haile Naizghi (jailed since 2004 probably in the old Italian prison Carcere, Asmara): Haile Naizghi is married and father of three children. After his arrest life for the family became extremely harsh and they fled Eritrea in difficult circumstances. They are still on the run. Haile was one of the committed leaders of the Full Gospel Church in Eritrea.
Haile Naizghi means a lot of things for me. He was a young boy when I left Eritrea as a teenager. Haile is the third son of Aboy Naizghi and Adey Tsigeweyni, a God-fearing family in Idaga Arbi. His older brothers, Isaac and Amanuel were martyred in the Eritrean liberation struggle. They were much older than myself and I observed them with respect. Amanuel is the age of my older brother and we used to call him Ima. Isaco (Isaac) was the eldest. Isaac used to go to Faith Mission Church before he joined the liberation struggle. He would have been very happy to hear that his youngest brother have become a reverend. But he would have been surprised and embarresd to hear that his youngest brother has been arrested by his comrades, the current rulers of Eritrea. Aboy (father) Naizghi passed away long time ago. But Adey (mother) Tsegeweyni died after Haile was detained.
His mother, Adey Tzigeweyni was sick and she wanted to see him. She went to Carcere and she asked if she could see her son. That was impossible. Se was told:“kidi ati sebeyti”. Mama Tzigeweyni went back thinking about the two other precious sons, Isaac and Amanuel who martyered themselves for Eritrea. The rulers who arrived in Eritrea on the shoulders of the martyered arrest and torture the brothers and sisters of the same martyrs.
Adey, mama, Tzigehoyni didn’t stay longer. She (RIP) died without Haile. Haile loved his mother but he couldn’t be present to pay his last respect to one of the beautiful and lovely mothers of Idaga Arbi.
What surprises me time and again is that (MOST) people (Eritreans) who knew Medhanie, who knew the prisoners of concience I have been writing the last two weeks, don’t dare to talk about them. They don’t even say: “Oh, what tragic”, or “I am really sorry for the family”, or “May God break his/her chains” or “what can we do to help?” No, I am time and again astonished by the total silence of the Eritrea people. To stay in the metaphore of Kundera, they have chose to go dement instead of challenging totalitarian regime, challenging their memory against forgetfullness. Forgetfullness! That is what the Isaias Afewerki (PFDJ) regime is upto: he took them away from us and he is telling us “if you remember them, you will face the same fate”. I undersand the silence of those inside Eritrea, but what about those of us who enjoy the full-fledge freedom in the west.