|Do you Remember?
Woldeab Woldemariam (Translated by Eyasu Hadgu), May 30, 2007
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AtoWoldeab Weldemariam and Ato Ibrahim Sultan, two outstanding Eritrean patriots were both close friends and comrades-at-arms.
When Ato Ibrahim died, Ato Woldeab wrote an eulogy which is very different from the usual eulogy which is usually full of praise for the diseased – his generosity, his wisdom etc…-- and it invariably addresses those attending the funeral or those who read in the newspaper.
Ato Wodeab’s eulogy addresses the diseased in a series of rhetorical questions: “do you remember”? In the process, he mentions many of the important political events that occurred in Eritrea between 1941 and 1965 and in which the two patriots played important roles.
Ato Wodeab’s eulogy is a sincere, deeply felt and emotionally charged testament from one nationalist to another.
The Tigrigna version is a master piece of literary work which should be studied by all those who write in Tigrigna. It is brief, clear and full of historical data.
Following is the English translation of the eulogy in its entirety.
My dear friend and brother, Ibrahim Sultan, do you remember on April 1941 when the victorious British army marched into Asmara, and we went to the former Commando Trupppe, a military garrison, to welcome the British, and the British army commander and Chief Administrator, Brigadier Kennedy Cooke gave us a hostile reception and told us that we were not authorized to assemble and ordered us to disperse immediately and go home? But that we refused, whatever the consequence of our disobedience, crossed ‘Campo Citato’, an area we were hardly allowed to see even from distance, and proceeded to the grand mosque, St. Mary’s Church, the Protestant church in Gheza Kenish and Kidane Mihret church to say our prayers before going on our individual affairs.
So you remember that, the next day, a proclamation was issued that prohibited any gathering of more than three people, carrying a stick longer than one meter and thicker than a normal walking stick, and that in defiance of the proclamation we met at Hagoz Abera’s tea-shop where we found the Patriotic Association and elected twelve people (representatives) to lead our organization?
Do you remember in 1944, when we met at the residence of Saleh Kekia and shared a chicken killed by a Moslem, put our hand on a copy of the Holy Quaran, and without any consideration to religious, regional, ethnic or élan differences undertook to struggle for the independence of a united Eritrea and formed the party, Eritrea for Eritreans?
Do you remember when the people of Eritrea started to have different political views and two views surfaced we arrived at a compromise solution and to implement our solution we met at Belghiorghis, Ethiopia sent Eritrean youth armed with knives and grenades and dispersed the gathering and that a month later, the Al-Rabita Al-Islamia was founded and that all the problems were a consequence of the evil activities of the government of Ethiopia?
Do you remember that when Al-Rabita Al-Islamia was founed with a Moslem name, as we expressed the concern that the promise we made when forming Eritrea for Eritreans may not be fulfilled, the leaders of Eritrea for Eritreans and leaders of Al-Rabita Al-Islamia, with you among them, met in Dekemhare and confirmed that the two organizations, although have different names, in all aspects, including in their leadership, form one entity?
Do you remember, in February 1956, when UN envoys met n Asmara, a conflict was created between Eritrean Christians and their Moslem brothers and you and I, with other Eritreans, went from one neighborhood to another to offer our assistance while the British forces in Asmara did not take any measure to control the situation, while for lack of policing, the riot went on for seven days and that our prayer brought reconciliation and we carried flowers both to Christian and Moslem cemeteries and buried the dead?
Do you remember, Sept. 1963, with practically no money, we went to the U.N expecting to have breakfast, lunch and supper and a bed at night for 10 dollars? And that we failed to do so but that we distributed copies of our plea and explained our case to the UN members and were compelled to return to Cairo via Lybia?
Do you remember in 1965, when our revolutionary children became splintered into five factions because of the evil machinations of their leaders and that this division was deteriorating into a civil war that caused us much alarm and concern and that we went to discuss the matter with our Syrian friends to Damascus where they gave us a warm welcome and arranged for us to transmit our advice to our revolutionary children by radio, and that we, you in Tigre and myself in Tigrigna, managed to send our message of unity and reconciliation?
Do you remember that in our struggle, the most challenging aspect was securing the unity of our country, that there was nothing that the British did not try to achieve their goal of dividing us but that at the end, we, although few in number, were able to frustrate Britain, that great imperialist country, and save our country from the dangers of partition?
My beloved brother and friend Ibrahim: a man, even if wise and admired, is not in this world permanently; he is not immortal; you have also passed away. I am also going to pass after you. However, we who are going to pass away, are capable of creating something that is eternal, because we are capable of leaving something that will not fade for generations, I know for certain that what you did for the good of your country will serve as an enduring example for your country men.
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