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15/07/2016 17:07 PM

38 years ago

Ethiopia murdered my husband,

Berhane Tesfamariam

Photo: Tegadalay Berhane Tesfamariam

My dear husband:

Here comes the sad anniversary of your imprisonment and murder at the hands of the Ethiopian occupier.

I remember vividly that fatal Saturday morning of July 15, 1978.

Your face turned grey when one of the soldiers said “Misteyom tehiedalech! Autaat”!  “Take his wife along” in Amharic/Ethiopian language.

Your face turned paler when you and I heard the voice - on the radio of the Ethiopian soldier - of someone you called a friend; this so called friend - who was a permanent figure at our house - was giving details of your schools and our family.

That very day, you and I knew the voice of betrayal and put a face to it.  We were both sitting – by order of the Ethiopian army invading our living room – next to each other and we were holding hands. I remember squeezing your hand once and you squeezed mine twice.  That signal made us understand we both  knew who the traitor was.

I told our children about that voice.  I was called once by one of the traitor’s daughter through a friend of hers.  I did not have the heart to tell her.

My beloved, I learned from you that Eritreans never make children pay for their fathers’ sins.  How long will I keep this secret in my heart?  How heavy the responsibility!!

I want to tell you that our Eritrean Veterans (members of all groups) are working hard to create an “Eritrean Veterans’ Day” to honor all Eritrean Veterans.  You and many like you included.

Do you remember me telling you that either the ELF or the EPLF might kill you because both groups like exclusivity?  You smiled while sitting in our kitchen holding our child, and told me these words “No Eritrean kills another Eritrean because of belief in our struggle.  I will never be killed by both group and you and I will never be alone.  An Eritrean is never alone”.  I engraved those words of yours in each of our hearts and I told the world!

Our kids learn from every shade of your life and history.  Because your life story is an important part of our beloved Eritrea’s history.

Shall I say that I miss you?  No, those words cannot explain the emptiness the kids and I feel without you. We miss the essence of life.  

Berhane of ours (ብርሃነ ናትና), our kids speak of you with uncompromising elegance, love and loyalty.

They grew up to be friends to everyone in need. They have each other. That is how much they love you and learn from you.

Our first grandson, that I call “Birhin neeshtey” (ብርሂን ንእሽተይ) is growing up to be a proud young man knowing the great legacy of his name.

I close this writing with the same words I left standing above the grave of Colonel Zenebe, one of the Ethiopians that enjoyed torturing you –:

“You, Ethiopian occupier only killed my husband’s body.  Traitors hammered the last nail in his coffin, but no one could stop his victory.  Eritrea is free forever thanks to Eritreans like Berhane!”

Rest in peace Berhane natey!(ብርሃነ ናተይ)

Our little family loves you.  Our many friends honor you.

Your wife, Kiki

July 15th, 2016

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