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Recalling Archives of 1950s Eritrea’s Newspapers


Asmara during the British occupation of the 1940s.


By Yosief Abraham Z

As one of the main drivers of the publishing industry in Eritrea, Hidri Publishers has been making concerted efforts in archiving vital literary productions of the country. Published in 2015, ‘Tezekari TikSitat Gazietatat Ertra, 1942-1962,’ is one of the well acclaimed books readers were ushered to have in that year. In fact, the contents are enriched with deep culture of ideating as well as arts of politics, economics and socio-psychology.

For instance, we can simply look at what lied beneath the intrinsic meaning of home. Among Eritreans, there are three words which raise mystique and powerful influence: mother, home and country

Thus, amid global migration crisis, the significance of having your home, your family and friends, came clear. Conforming to this very idea, on its 14th September 1942 issue, ‘Semunawi Gazetatat, underscores that ‘… even foxes and other animals from the woods never accept others propose that they—the animals--have to abandon their shelter believing that the lodge which is provided by others is noble and great.’

Our culture teaches great love; yes, a deeply rooted affection to our home. Consolidating harmonious relationship with your neighbors is also another noble belief of the Eritrean culture. Certain to this, your neighbors are there to share the time of rainy seasons, and to redouble your moments of joy. Thus, living with your neighbor— at individual and national level— in agreeable and concordant way is manifested boldly. An article from ‘Hanti Ertra’ on its 7th November 1951 publication also testifies this fact.

The writer underscored, “As the maxims of our ancestors say, In order to have a glowing sleep, first, we need to guarantee that our neighbor is in a good sleep.”

By far, the value of work and being employed in transforming your-self and your society begins at home. An idle son is highly accused for choosing to be a black-sheep of the family. Having taken this into account therefore, on August 6, 1954, ‘Dehai Ertra,’ posted a message on it publication attributed as, ‘It is better and honorable to stay in your home and advocate for your dignity rather than begging from the gardens of the colonialist.’ And with that comment, the newspaper underlined the value of home as a source of dignity and pride.

Evidently, home is the means which brings yesterday night’s cultures into the lights of today. Following to the responsibility of the parents, Eritrean cultures specify the responsibilities of every member of a family. So, out of the dilemma world, we can say that we love our home; and yet, loving your home is not enough. Thus, what role are we playing in expressing our love towards our home? On February 1, 1943, ‘Semunawi Gazeta’ published one stimulating comment of a reader, “Thus, what purposeful schemes have we accomplished towards our home, towards this ethereal nation?

Have we undertaken afforesting ventures and replanted fruits? Or are we tasked with constructing this bridge that we cross from markets to the picturesque villages? Are we leaving developmental sculptures for remembrance and trophy? So what did we accomplish?” Proverbs of Eritrean generations underscore this fact: ‘Judge People from their actions rather than their words of speeches.’

In fact, the art of living with one typical Eritrean family teaches developing the sense of shouldering your responsibilities. As the religiously supported culture teaches, our stay in this world is for a short time, an individual is nurtured in the way that he develops deep attachment with his family, with his home and the area he nurtured. And through this, individuals are encouraged to contribute something before the forces of death makes transferred them to netherworld. With this ideology in its core aim, ‘Wihidet Eritrea,’ the Arabic version of ‘Hanti Ertra,’ on its November 28, 1951 publication postulated:

“We are witnessing youths who migrate individually and at group level with ‘ARAMCO,’ a foreign and well-capitalized firm. In fact, this is part of the colonialists’ conspiracy which we need to pay our provocative thoughts thereby to curb the immigration of young people; of course, those young are leaving their country lured by a few monetary rewards. Dear brothers! Never let your heart sympathized for alluring intents. …And, assuredly, yours is better than the country you are immigrated. …so, show your steadfastness with your country. For money is merest, and we are mortal, let’s stand in full spirit; yes, in full strength with our country in moments of rainy and happy seasons.”

Undeniably, unity is what makes a home stand in full pride and dignity. The pillars of home never stand perfectly where there are religious as well as ethnical divisions, and chauvinism is rampant or dominant. Despite its loyal subservience to the Hailesselassie’s regime and his imperialist desires, ‘Gazeta Ethiopia,’ clearly asserted the desire of Eritreans towards their home. After the election for members of the assembly came to end, the newspaper conveyed one great message on its March 30, 1952 publication:

“…Eritreans are seeking for peace; they are searching for peace to prevail among their neighbors, brothers and sisters, relatives and even they wish peace to their opponents. And to witness stability in their country, to have peace in the barren lands and in cities is their desire. Thus, we know that those elected members of the assembly came from lowlands and highlands.

That is why it is not appropriate to address them by their religious beliefs. As we have affirmed crucially, all are Eritreans and we believe on this fact.”

I found this a very articulate statement. Home is for all us to leave in peace, liberty and justice. Dragging factors like popularizing any sectarian divisions is, under any time, the foundation of other crisis thereby to embroil the beloved home into prolonging troubles. As the common maxim put clearly, home is sweet, nostalgic and hub of great moments. And to encourage the culture of saving your home from various notions of devastations, its members expect to agree in addressing the vital issues. Therefore, are technological advancements, scientific discoveries or art and its fantasies are the cognized priorities of the beloved home?

On its June, 17 1948 publication, ‘Semunawi Gazeta,’ stated: “…if we failed to remain successful in the agricultural arena, then, how are we going to be prosperous and civilized? Of course, by excelling agriculture, is how we can develop.” This is the truth. In this age of political games where even food policies and strategies have been politicized thereby to satiate the demands of the implementers, our home expects to feed itself profoundly. Indeed, this is the culture and art we expect to bequeath from our forefathers philosophies and literary assets.

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