Pilgrimage to Nakfa
Nakfa, Eritrea (Photo credit: Sophia Tesfamariam)
PILGRIMAGE TO NAKFA
For Eritreans, Nakfa is the most significant place. Nakfa is the place of resilience, love, devotion, ingenuity, determination….Nakfa, the strong hold of Hizbawi Gmbar—EPLF-- and haven of Tegadelti!—fighters for justice and dignity-- is the sacred place where our beloved Tegadelti’s spirit rests in eternal peace.
Once it was liberated in 1977, the Derg army never set foot again in Nakfa. Nakfa, is the place where the quasai-religious principle of self-reliance of Hezbawi Genbar was incubated and flourished. Nakfa is the inception of the unconventional means of supply of armaments “Nselai bdeyetu bbretu”---“beat the enemy with its own weapons”
It was in 1998, during the Woyane invasion, when I went back to Ertra for the first time and it was for the first time that I also visited Nakfa with my niece, Selam. At the bus terminal, I came across a veteran Tegadalit, Botul Adem, born and raised in Nakfa; she curiously asked me if I came from Asmara. Then, she looked at me with sympathetic eyes and continued, “mebtsea neruki diu?”—“Do you have a pledge?” I momentarily run out of words and only smiled. Indeed, that was the purpose of my visit to Nakfa: to pay due respect to our Martyrs who are resting in peace in Nakfa, including my beloved brother, Menghsteab, and many who were neighbourhoods as well as relatives to whom I consider all as brothers and sisters.
Like many Eritreans who grew up during the Derg regime era, by listening to Dimsi Hafash radio station, and later after liberation in the diaspora, reading the remarkable history of Gedli----Struggle---- published under the title of “Meswati waga Harenet”---“Martyrdom is the price of Liberation---- and other similar sources, I came to the conclusion that Nakfa is a Holly place that deserves a place in the heart of every Eritrean and a pilgrimage like Mecca and Jerusalem.
Nakfa for Tegadelti, especially those who spent their Gedli life mostly in Nakfa, has a lot to share of their personal, social, political, economic as well spiritual experiences. From their various narrations on Nakfa, many of us learn the significance of Gedli, Tegadelti and Gmbar—The Struggle, the Fighters and the Front--. Moreover, by observing the demeanour of the survivors who carry overt and covert wounds, any human being with empathic eyes could read into their extraordinary “zeiytneger” resilience and endurance!!!!
The extensive interviews, books and short stories including the revolutionary songs of that era, are excellent references to appreciate the significance of Nakfa and the ultimate sacrifice paid by Tegadelti. Moreover, visiting Nakfa in person brings one closer to its blessings! One feels it deep in the soul and a communion with all the spirits of SEMATI.--.Martyres-- The cream of the society who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of Ertra and the people of Eritrea! In fact, it is a sacrifice for social justice and human rights! Therefore, it is a sacred place.
As many of us are aware of, every year, Eritreans from various parts of the world, pay a visit to Jerusalem or Mecca Medina for pilgrimage. As a religious doctrine, pilgrims visiting Jerusalem or Mecca believe in its blessings. However, only those who are fortunate would get that opportunity, particularly the elders have a deep desire to visit Jerusalem or Mecca.
However, I find it ironic that as much as Eritreans pay pilgrimage to Mecca or to Jerusalem, and as much as they express love and respect to our Martyrs, they have as yet to develop a national culture making Nakfa a destination of pilgrimage to all Eritreans, especially parents of Semati as well their respective siblings. It is not farfetched to consider Nakfa similar to other Holly places. Why not recognize NAKFA as a spiritual place where the potential of the Higher Being, Melokotawi Haili, demonstrated its Holly power in Tegadelti through Gedli Eritrea in Nakfa?! If Higher Being (Amalk or Allah) were not present within the spirit of Tegadelti, all the miracles of the long struggle, would have not happened!
Therefore, no doubt that Nakfa is the Holly place for Eritreans, of course, and for any peace, justice and equality loving people from anywhere around the globe; Nakfa and its miracles belongs to all, regardless of faith, gender or ethnicity as our Semati were female and male, from all ethnic, social and religious backgrounds of our society. Indeed, Nakfa ought to be and is a destination of pilgrimage for all!!
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