Remembering Asmerom Adhanom
Remembering Asmerom Adhanom
By Haile Bokure
It was in the late eighties, the final decade of the Eritrean liberation struggle. A group of revolutionary artists from the mighty mountain of Sahl crossed the Atlantic shores to display their moving and creative art works. Some of the art works depict a little child running toward approaching tank in a desperate attempt to look for his dear mother who was a victim of mass murder. Another color picture also shows a chubby child hugging his cheerful mother. But most of the countless opuses of these highly gifted Eritreans highlight the Eritrean landscapes with the freedom fighters in action.
While the show was in progress in down town D.C., I stopped by a club house run by the Eritrean Mass Organization. As usual, I ordered tea while reading EPLF publications after boring hours of the day. Some one who sat beside me motioned to greet me by invoking my name. I could not recognize him, and for this, I asked his name. He told me in a low voice that he is Birhane Adonay, my closest friend during my scholastic years at the then Haileselassie High, the present Red Sea High in Asmara. We didn't see each other for about sixteen years. Even so, he recognized me all of a sudden by virtue of his photographic memory associated with highly visually-oriented artists.
Birhane Adonay, as I know him then was shy, quite and imaginative person. In 1969 he participated in the art competition sponsored by the United States Information Service to commemorate the landing of manned lunar spaceship known as "Apollo Eleven." The two top winners were from Eritrea, and Birhane being the second. By the same token, the successful landing was a moving force that influenced me to engage in the craft of penmanship. Because back then, I promised to translate Shakespeare tales into Tigringa in case the Apollo Eleven landed on the moon. It did so!!! No wonder, these tales will be published after forty seven years in upcoming Spring. Traditionally, it is a perfect season of poetry in the States. (la primavera).
In 1970, I and Birhane stopped by Amserom Adhanom's house located at Mekane Genet (Paradiso). Asmerom let us in after knocking the door. To my surprise, he was looking at me steadily for the reason I could not tell at all. In this response, I said to him, " Didn't' you see me before?" But Asmerom said, " At first encounter, it is my nature to see a person in detail; not in holistic manner. This is true from the perspective of discriminative perception attributed to artistic eyes.
At that time, his villa was quite like his private studio or a mini art gallery. He was highly excelled in portrait and abstract drawings as well. Asmerom pointing at one figure and asked me to describe what I was perceiving. In this response, I told him as if I was seeing some short, long and broken lines with rainbow colors. But upon his description, I was surprised to see acrobatic figures with sensual messages that untrained eyes could not observe at all.
Asmerom was a handsome, short, soft-spoken, observant, and of course shy as most artistic people are. He was also generous and helpful as testified by his fellow artist, Birhane Adonay. It is sad that he terminated his life as most happens with highly artistic and literary figures. But his mission that carried over by his friend Birhane Adonay, the founder of Revolutionary Art School would endure forever.
* The attached art work that you see was sent to me yesterday by a young Italian lady named Signorina Zarie Vostok who lives in Genoa, Italy. That is what she said to me in her e-mail with admiration:-
" I live in Genoa, so I can't understand how this beautiful woman arrived here. I found her in the block where I lived before and where I was born."
Till this point in time, it is one of some drawings (by the same artist) sent to me by three collectors from Canada, USA and Eritrea.
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