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30/10/2020 22:44 PM


A message to Eritrean men and to our future government!
The symbolism of bras and women fight during our liberation war!

by Kiki Tzeggai


A message to Eritrean men and to our future government!
The symbolism of bras and women fight during our liberation war!
by Kiki Tzeggai.

One day, in our house in Asmara/Eritrea, my husband came home and after the usual hugs and how was your day, lunch is ready routine… he asked me to check a small package he left in our bedroom. We were in the kitchen; I was boiling water for our tea. The kids’ in their room for their afternoon nap. I did not check the package immediately, our talks and our cherished time together took over my mind!

My husband bought me a fuchsia bra! Fuchsia color! “Ata Birhin, what is this color?” I asked and laughed. He said something in the sense that since all around us was grey, the color attracted him and the sale person at Boutique Daria convinced him to go on with the purchase. I put the package away smiling with a flirtatious glance.

Then the enemy took him! Tortured him! Killed him! He was gone, just like that!! My lonely walks from one room to another, my cleaning the house at night, my tears …all that took me to re-arrange our drawers. I would wash his shirt and iron it each day, as if he had a change of clothing before going to work. Then one day, the fuchsia color bra stared at me. Still in its package! Was it a silent message for a plan I had envision? That is how I read it!

I followed my inner guts and asked a trusted friend to arrange an appointment between Chambel Solomon and myself. The latter was a notorious Ethiopian soldier/criminal that could beat the devil in a cruelty competition! I wore the fuchsia bra! That bra became my weapon to attract him and no price seemed too high if I could see Berhane walking out from prison or being pushed on a wheel chair. As long as he was breathing! That debased creature refused to meet with me. He was interested in cash money only!

So, I had a talk with my husband that night, after the kids were sleeping holding Dad’s pillow! His smell appeased their cry!

With the vengeance of a woman scorned by a criminal Ethiopian soldier that belonged to each sewer system of Eritrea, I grabbed for my scissors and cut the silk fabric of the fuchsia bra! The sound of each breaking thread mimicking the deepest level of my anger, I sobbed while that bra was being torn to shreds. When I was done, I carefully wrapped the besmirched piece of lingerie back in its original tissue paper, placed it in the bag, and returned the bag to the drawer. I imagined telling my husband that his gesture of romantic love had been destroyed. Just like my life! Like in any of our conversations, Birhin’s voice took its’ turn and stoically said with the tutelage of a wise, calm and strong man:” "You know Kiki, I'm only going to buy you another one! You cannot fight this war alone! Stay strong my love!” That is when I said, “I will and this time we will go shopping together, husband of mine!"

The moral of this story - and the chapters that are being “purposely ” put into archives and might never be visited to write them in the history of Eritrea's fight for freedom- is the fights Eritrean women faced all alone! Fashion might have a unique way of locating debates about politics, economics and culture directly on the human body – particularly women’s bodies- Fashion and lingerie symbolizes and constructs our relationships to institutions of power and culture, gender and economics, while also captivating hold of the popular imaginary!

Eritrean women use the language of fashion accounts in ways that mass culture is transformed into personal experience; it helps us articulate who we are, or slip in and out of versions of who we want to be. Yet it is so easy for people to dismiss it, to write us off as the fairy floss of a moribund chauvinists’ culture. For any woman, lingerie is something so wildly commonplace; a woman never bothers to contemplate its meanings as we absentmindedly get dressed in the mornings. During wartime, a bra held more power than a range of lined up Kalashnikovs!

It is something that has a profound impact on how our bodies are feminine and how the prevailing cruelty of occupation was linked to ideas of how a woman should be, or how our bodies and our physical shape were clothed, but not dressed.

There were – and still there are – so many personal sad feelings and stories of all women went through during the Eritrean war for freedom. I never told the story of the fuchsia bra, but reading all comments on social media, not one – NOT ONE ERITREAN MALE – writes about the price Eritrean women have paid. About the slander Eritrean women crossed. About the enemy's cruelty and more excruciating cruelty by our own society.

A war is waiting for us once this regime is wiped out of our land. Let some aspect be a “war of bras” be it fuchsia color or red color! Let it be your war to make the wrong right, Eritrean man! Truly drastic shifts in our culture towards women are needed. By women and above all, by men!

Eritrean women exploded the definition of politics! Few years back women refused to stay silent; they tossed their bras and redefined politics from the USA, to Europe, to Tunisia!

In as a strict and rigid society such as the Eritrean society , we hope not to reach that point in our future fight for equal rights and equal credit during our war for freedom, but the blood that ALL women paid for our freedom, be carefully respected and the war for equality in writing our history, must and will prevail!

Our young female generations today, are diligently consolidating groups that have silently – but strongly - organized themselves to change Eritrea at its’ core! Men should follow! Or rather accept!

Kiki Tzeggai
October 27, 2020

"Peace is a wall we will all create by building it brick-by-brick together". Martyr Berhane Tesfamariam (Trade mark)

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ckdu Voice of Eritrea -
Naz Yemane (Sunday July 12, 2015 show)

Martyr Berhane Tesfamariam (Wedi Balilla), member of EPLF underground activists in Asmara, Eritrea, who was killed in the notorious Derg-prison "Gibi" (Asmara) in 1978; his story is told by his wife (Kiki Tsegai), his colleagues፡ fedayn Hidray Fesseha and others. What a sacrifice!

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