Dear Eritrean woman

Mahmud Saleh As usual, I minded my business until my sons reminded me yesterday was March Eight, International Women's Day. They are good at remembering anniversaries and birthdays. So, we said "Happy March Eight" to the

Mahmud Saleh

As usual, I minded my business until my sons reminded me yesterday was March Eight, International Women’s Day. They are good at remembering anniversaries and birthdays. So, we said “Happy March Eight” to the only female we have in the house. I don’t think she cared. Women are intuitive and more realistic than men. They know it right away if you mean what you say. Her rolling eyes made me contemplate about this date.  I had to stop a project I was working on to write down my feelings about this date. Forgive me for this poorly edited piece, but I have to share it with you.

What Does The Date Mean To Me?

What does March Eight signify in Eritrean terms? Do we have to celebrate it? Why do we celebrate something, anyway? Is it because others do it, or we want to make that occasion a vehicle for impacting concrete changes in our society? Does talking about changes that other women of the world have registered supplant homegrown discourses? Do we have to carry the same slogans that the early twenty century women and leftists carried? Do their demands match ours? How do Eritrean women fare versus the aspirations they had fought for?

My poor brain had to sort out and prioritize many of the questions that had inundated it. I had to take a quip trip down the memory lane, back to the old days when March Eight enjoyed special treatment.

I remember during the golden days when we paraded, sang and danced, commemorating March Eight. An era full of energy and promise, the valleys of Sahel would light up, the birds would join the party, singing ” Happy March Eight.”

There were beautifully decorated placards carrying captivating slogans. Also, there were speeches loaded with ideological themes. It seemed we reached the heights of civilization where oppression in all of its forms was about to be wiped out. That was the story of yesterday; it was a story of the then prevalent leftist internationalism that gave little space to contextualizing women’s right within each given country’s sociopolitical setting. We repeated what foreigners had written. But we were happy for the happy spirit the festive atmospheres brought in amid the war.

If we celebrated it yesterday,  we had a reason. We were celebrating it primarily because we believed the struggle we were waging had an equally critical integral component to the task of liberating Eritrea from foreign occupation.  We believed the struggle’s goals went far beyond liberating Eritrea. We believed that liberating Eritrea was the first step for creating a domain where human rights would flourish and  be respected. That’s why women were more determined than men in ensuring that the liberation efforts went well. They saw a well placed investment in their blood and sweats that their daughters would enjoy equality ion future Eritrea.

Eritreans waged the armed struggle primarily because Ethiopia violated their constitutionally guaranteed rights that the constitution of 1952 enshrined. Ethiopian systematic  encroachment and the final measure of annexing Eritrea resulted in the breaching of rights including the right to govern, legislate, assemble, and the use of a flag and languages of choice.

Therefore, the armed struggle principally pivoted around civil and political rights. Although women were not granted to vote, the 1952 constitution of Eritrea embodied the requisite for change. As article 16 points out, it was ” based on the principles of democratic government,” signaling that citizens would have room for collective bargaining.  Issues concerning women’s rights, including the right to vote and occupy elected position, are fundamental questions of social justice and they would quickly gather speed under that budding democratic climate.

That being the case, Ethiopia’s response to the peaceful petitioning was brutal, triggering the launching of the armed struggle and what followed of war and destruction,  culminating in the establishment of independent Eritrea.  Thus, our martyrs,  men and women, had primarily died for human dignity, which includes women’s rights. So, have we retained the gains of yesterday, Or we squandered it all? Do we have our March Eight? Do we digest what it all means to be a woman in Eritrea? Let us see what the pioneers of March Eight mean when they celebrate it, I mean the American ones.

Recapping March Eight’s marching

The books foreigners wrote say it all began in 1909 when the women employed in the garment industry in New York got fed up with discriminatory practices and unsafe practices in workplaces. They agreed that women needed to organize for meaningful impact in the male-dominated workplace. Soon, leftist organizers picked it off and internationalized it.

Warning: No cultural filter has been applied. Some of you may not agree with the gains listed below that American women have registered. This topic deals with cultural as well as legal dimensions, and countries address it according to their constitutions. But there are universal human rights embodied in the gains that are applicable everywhere. I include victories that American women have registered because they concretize the discussion and entice us to think about what we could push for in Eritrean context.

So, here we go.[source: https://goo.gl/nWfvZw]

  1. 1920: Women got their right to vote; it took them decades to participate fully.
  2. 1922: Women were allowed to marry foreigners and keep their citizenship; before that, they would be stripped of their citizenship if they married foreigners.
  3. 1960: They could buy birth control pill
  4. 1968; they got the right to have equal access to job listings. Before that, jobs were classified according to gender.
  5. 1970; Equal pay right
  6. 1973: The right to have legal abortion
  7. 1974: The right to have credit cards in their names, financial independence.
  8. 1978: No work discrimination based on pregnancy
  9. 1985: Can divorce their husbands without having to give “reason” simply by stating “because of irreconcilable differences.” Before that, the burden was on the wife to prove her husband was at fault.
  10. 1986: Women could seek damages for sexual harassment at workplace. Today’s movements of “Me too” and “Time up,” should thank the pioneers of women’s rights.
  11. 1993: Rape became a criminal offense in all states. Wow, that late!!
  12. 1998; Women could access the morning after pill to avoid possible pregnancy.
  13. 2009: Could file claims of pay discrimination
  14. 2013: Allowed to fight on the front lines. Eritrean women fought on the front lines along male, compare that with the experience of Eritrea women!! But that is the story of yesterday.
  15. 2015: Women can marry other women. Don’t ask me how; I have already warned you to expect this one.

Back To Eritrean March Eight

There is no doubt that Eritrean women sensed oppression long before many of their male counterparts did,  “Because,” says a female friend, ” they were born in it.”  That’s why they joined the trailblazers of our revolution in the sixties. Their numbers and contributions grew through the years of the liberation struggle.

We boast that they constituted a third of the liberation army, and contributed half of the liberation efforts. But we never ask ourselves if they are given half of the pie-  if there is any. We keep boasting, though. Still, we celebrate March Eight.

Eritrean Struggle Was For Social Justice.

Your struggle was for social justice. Your sacrifice was for restoring human dignity, which included the right of women to have equal access to education and health facilities. You fought for the right to have fair representation in decision-making bodies. You paid dearly to ensure that women would be considered independent citizens. The liberation of Eritrea was meant to be a vehicle for dignified life.  And until there is oppression of all citizens, it is ludicrous trying to split women’s emancipation from national emancipation. There could not be justice for women in an unjust society.

 The Women I Knew: an emotional flashback, a tribute to Eritrean female fighter.

You made Derg’s Generals freak out; pee and poop in their pants;  seeing you clutching your Kalashnikov rifle and beads of sweat running down your naturally beautiful faces, they begged for mercy.   You pulled them out of the foxhole and reassured them to calm down. Indeed, you made them realize you were different than the women they were harassing and abusing back in the barracks and city bars. Your tremendous courage, your sharp and focused demeanor made them say good things about you. “We never anticipated a woman would capture us,” they confided to their friends.

How can I forget the day you humiliated the Soviet officers at Afabet, after running Nadew Command? You made the commanding General wear women’s clothes and ride a camel to evade capture.

The story of your gallantry is very long for me to summarize it here. The images though keep coming back, giving me the energy to scribble whatever I could.  It is getting  late;  I feel sleepy, but your memory keeps me alert enough to keep writing….

I have seen models overusing cosmetic products. You never cared about wearing makeup, and I don’t think it was available. Even if it were, you did not have time for cosmetic touches.  You were in a war, deep in muddy trench-pockets; you were busy carrying out raids and surprise counterpunches. You were seized with a noble cause of liberating a nation, an object that was more significant to you than personal care.

You made male chauvinists swallow their pride, lose their nerves, and at the end surrender to reality: you commanded many of them. I remember you leading columns of brave men and women, with that walkie-talkie crackling off noises of commanders coordinating battles; I remember your high-pitched call sending shivers down the spines of your enemies. You were the commander, giving and executing orders…

You Overcame elements of nature, the heat and cold; hunger and thirst. The fear of pitch-dark nights was defeated; you got used to the thuds of shells and the lightning flashes of explosions. You conquered towering mountains and beat the sense of insecurity. I always wonder how you overcame the uncomfortable life in close quarters with your male-combatant comrades. You were their commander.

Your strong muscles bent metals. I remember the female mechanic who got us across Anseba river. She brought in a utility truck from Zera and fixed our vehicle within minutes. We were so grateful and at the same time pleasantly humbled. We would have been an easy target for the fighter jets. They knew that killing zone, trucks got stuck in that ravine bed. The fighter jets made many kills there.

I also remember the female doctor who saved my life. At times, she was rumored to have not slept for days as battle casualties kept arriving, under heavy bombardment and screeching jet fighters, her hands stayed steady, her mind focused, she kept slicing up human flesh to get to that shrapnel lodged somewhere in the poor patient’s ribcage.  She tried to save the ones hanging on life by a thin thread, and there were many of them. Who would she save first? A tough challenge.

Anyway, She had to save lives. She never lost the focus. She was said to have saved thousands of lives.

Then you had the curious technician  who repaired and assembled electronics; the sound engineer, the editor, the teacher, the journalist, the administrator, and the community worker. Also, there were noncombatant women who contributed significantly, namely, clandestine agents, mothers who fed and cared for the liberation fighters and those from the Diaspora who devoted their time and money to the cause.

The night is progressing,  and I feel my mind and  fingers fatiguing. I can’t give you a full description; I hope you don’t blame me for trying…

Lastly,  I remember you, going through cycles of cheerfulness and depression, moments of hope and despair….but I never read on your face  signs of surrender….I reminisce all of the above without forgetting the heroines who gave their lives, and those of you who have suffered the worst of debilitating wounds.

Your smiles outshone the sweetness of a full moon; I dreamed how you would fare in free Eritrea….Yes, I remember many of you, and I ask myself: where are they now? I would like to see your story written by you, in your own words. Where are you, now?

We saw what American women have gained through their struggle. I bet you made more sacrifices than others. You got used to lip service discourses.  Would you then jot down your concrete gains, and compare it with your aspirations? Are we going to have an Eritrean March Eight next year,  based on Eritrean women’s experience? I expect your appraisal of women’s position and achievement will be different from the ones we hear from NUEW. That’s for sure, But you have to write your own story.

Happy March 8!

Grudgingly.

 

aseye.asena@gmail.com

Review overview
57 COMMENTS
  • meretse March 13, 2018

    Amanuel,
    baela memxiet derfi// baela metfie’et derfi kbehal semi’e neyre. Niskake?

    • shilan March 14, 2018

      amanuel,
      Wedi Halima the mushmush rootless Saho whore snake/rat, look what you’ve done to your poor ignorant Fedayin of your criminal barbaric evil savage Islamic ELF mendef shit. This ignorant villager must have taken your stinky ugly Halima to his desert village with his shitty poems and his Fedayin Kalashnikov! But unfortunately your ugly stinky Halima sister found this lousy useless villager very inadequate as a man and must have also been bored with his village poems to have dumped him in his desert village. The good thing is they didn’t stay together long enough to produce a diQala talkative subhuman like that k.tewolde wedi Amate Komarit. Assenna is really becoming an animal farm joke place with all kinds of old evil ELF lonely miserable weirdos coming out to fascinate us with their imaginary past lives of Komerti/hookers mothers, ugly/stinky savage Halima dog mothers and fiancees, and also not to forget your most ignorant demented PIMP ahimido bin salihido Yemeni mushmush aregit kelbi areb. You lot just keep us fascinated with your so fascinating fictions and we just can’t wait for more exciting/fascinating deQalu deki eraymirayat goHafat’s revelations. “amanuel” let’s have your fascinating evil Islamic revelation of your murderous barbaric Islam’s past.

  • meretse March 13, 2018

    Dear Amanuel as well as many pen names,
    I wish I had the capacity to read your mind as a book; but, unfortunately, I can’t. I also hope you don’t come to rush blaming my weakness. Today I have decided to ask you to do me a favor. It is so simple that you can do it in couple seconds if not a minute. Please open one of your windows or the main door and tell me what you see. Thank you for being a humble person. You see, what you have seen a minute ago is different from what I have seen minutes ago. Be patient with me, if you and I were to check back our memories the results would be as different as — what you and I have witnessed moments ago. Let me guess (hypothetically) if I have to ask you the same question (recall memory) your mind might come up with the deadest Tsunami of December 2014 while mine might recall the Twin Tower destruction. And there is nothing wrong with having different recollection unless you wanted to prove it otherwise as usual. Therefore, to make our recollection worth telling we need to listen to each other. If you have a story or stories to tell so be it; otherwise, bashing at every comment or idea is not doing any good to you.

    • Misghina March 13, 2018

      Unfortunately, you are a typical village fool but do you know that ‘ignorance is a blessings’? You are better where you are and we are allowing you to continue to live as such ‘as ignorant village fool’.

  • meretse March 13, 2018

    Now let me tell a short village story. This story is not a fiction it is a true story. My first fiancée was a muslin. For now, it is not worth it explaining her beauty. Love is enough. Our engagement was accepted by both parents except one (her grandma). Her grandma objected our engagement for only and only one reason- religion. Guess what who came to defend our love? My fiancée’s mom – Halima. My future mother-in law to be Halima, bravely told her mom as such: – mom, if God permits you to live longer on this planet the longest you can live is ten years. Halima continued the conversation as such and I quote: “Mom look at those young beautiful couples– they are expecting to have a happy life the same as you had your own. Besides,
    ኢዛ ካን ህዋ ራዲ
    ዎ ሂያ ራዲ
    ኤሽ ደከሉ ኣልቓዲ”
    For those of you do not know Arabic it means >>‘ if she and he love each other the judge should not interfere. Weeks later what happened is a different story. The reason why I am telling you this story is to fix yourself. Remember we have let you guys run free aimless for so long hoping one day you will stop and realize that you had ran for nothing. You have cried so much hatred here and accomplished nothing. We are ONE. For your information, we have uncles, aunts, cousins and nieces not only inside the country but all over the world.,
    “Every minute and second, mentioning the faults of others does not rid you of your own.”

    • Misghina March 13, 2018

      It is good that you wasted time to write this joke. You must be a wonderful for nothing Islam cultist. Speaking of cults, don’t you know that you are/have been licking the sandals of the followers of the biggest cult and hoax known to mankind?
      I know you have a high opinion of yourself (by your lousy amateurish/villager poems and comments) but nothing is worse than a stupid/ignorant villager person like yourself who thinks he is smart or lecturer/philosopher. You are nothing but a lousy amateur village comedian/clown. You may also be a former ELF stooge who is full of himself.

  • meretse March 14, 2018

    Amanuel/mesghina,………..
    So u did admit this time ha? Your latest comment is written with every word you have used before in your
    Previous comments except one word –“boring”.
    Is this mean you still dislike the logo but you do love the fabric. Boy! you are changing slowly…

    • shilan March 14, 2018

      Just like “amanuel” – the pathological serial “Muslim nefaHito” liar/fake poser, I also really thought you were a big respectable man (without your pathetic poems) but from your responses I see an ignorant frustrated (may be because of stinky Halima dumping/ditching you for a better all action hot man) villager barking nonstop as a wounded savage diQala animal and calling for help. Ignorant villager ROT in your diQala Islam HELL where you belong with your stinky Halima. As respect to women’s big day I refrained from responding to that savage old Arab’s dog a.s. PIMP.

      • Simon G. March 14, 2018

        Since Assenna seems to like your types, I came back from exile to say, you (shilan) and your likes (I am sure it is you call yourself Misghina and many nicks), got to the big hell and wait for your Tembienay owner and you all can burn for eternity!
        I think this is very simple sentence for your small brain to grasp it.

        • Misghina March 14, 2018

          Simon G, why are you so desperate and so restless acting as a wild disturbed zombie? If you are a real man why can’t you topple your Tembeienay boss/owner and tormentor, he has been fucking you savagely upside down for far too long but all you do is just moan like an old woman, cry like a baby, complain like a girl all just weak lousy lame excuses? You deserve to suffer much longer under your great boss/owner tormentor DIA.

    • Misghina March 14, 2018

      poor ignorant villager meretse, your murderer comrade (in evil savage Islamic ELF mendef shit) “amanuel” is aka Sol, Nahon, Samson Beraki, alem, Almaz, Asmara Eritra, Noor, Setit, Mohammed, Kalighe, Aba thimmer, keshi mars, Keshi Marsallo, comedian Iraqi Ali, Khalid and so on…
      Wedi Gojamiye Asmelash, how long you going to remain blind and ignorant villager Fedayin?

      • Misghina March 14, 2018

        Big sorry ignorant meretse villager ‘Halima’s lover boy’, that was meant to come under shilan!!! But not to worry since the village ignorant Fedayin is even confused with his “amanuel”!

        • shilan March 14, 2018

          Brother Misghina, time to go after the biggest savage evil muslim barking dog the demented HARADI MAHAYIM mushmush rootless PIMP ahimido al Yemeni salihido the demented aregit kelbi areb. We should really attack this savage illegal immigrant saHab gimel nomad mercilessly and savagely all the time.

  • shilan March 14, 2018

    Simon G aka Suleiman bin Gereaneniya bin shitty HatellaGuzay, poisonous Embassoyra, Zgeremo – ZitsaHitsoHo mushmush teKoradi HatellaGuzetay poisonous snake. Why were you exiled then wedi evil poisonous HatellaGuzay hatella? Your hooker HatellaGuzay dog mother must be a sad old beggar woman to have you as a useless vaseline boy and for your other useless savage evil deQalu shefatu/bandit siblings who were just used and disposed as condoms by the barbarian Arabs. Are you still bloody fighting with your savage evil muslim Arab slave dogs to free HatellaGuzay and to have a diQala savage Arabic flag?? Indeed, poor Eritrea’s life long enemies are the ROOTLESS CANCEROUS vicious muslims and the poisonous savage backward HatellaGuzay SNAKES. ROT in your diQla Islam HELL too.

    • Simon G. March 14, 2018

      Shilan,
      Correction: Mighty Embasoyra, not just Embasoyra!
      Of course, the rest is ignored as usual.

      • shilan March 14, 2018

        TsaHitsaHi poisonous Wedi Gereaneniya HatellaGuzetay sinkul/crippled SNAKE!
        Why are you then “baEla memxet derfi//baEla metfiet derfi” poisonous HatellaGuzetay?
        You should never ever start a fight or a race that you can never finish with light punch!
        And why all of sudden changes to Suleiman Gereaneniya from Zgeremo hatella pen-name?

  • meretse March 14, 2018

    On International Women’s day a wonderful article was written and posted by Mahumud Saleh. What makes the article so great is not only its relevance to the Women’s Day but it is written and presented thoughtfully. So far, it is read by at least 1704 visitors. As usual, among all these visitors there are only a handful commentators. Ninety eight out of a hundred had expressed their gratitude to the author and occasionally added some new information on it. Having said that, the website had been infected for a long time by a very well-known virus. By replicating itself 24/7 this known virus is infesting the website almost permanently or beyond repair. Every word that comes out from his mouth is unethical, meaning: —- evil, wicked, immoral, wrong, unprincipled, dishonest, fraudulent, wicked, sneaky and many more (source dictionary). In Tigrina we have one grand-word which intends to explain all the above words – ጽያፍ
    ብዘይካ ጽያፍ ጽቡቕ ዘይሞልቖ ሰብ — “ምስ መዕበያካ ጥፋእ’ ይብሃል። እዚ ማለት እቲ ጽልኣት ካብኡ ሓሊፉ ክሳብ እቶም ዘዕበይዎ ከይተረፈ ይበጽሕ፤ ብሕማቅ ወዶም ወይ ጓሎም ይልከሙ። ኣብ ክንዲ ካብቲ ተጻሒፉ ዘሎ ኣርእስቲ ከምኡ’ውን ንዕኡ ከሰኒዩ ዝተጻሕፉ ሪእቶታን ማለት (ብሓው K. Tewolde ጀሚሮም ክሳብ ሕጂ ኣብ ሪእቶ ሓው Simon G. በጺሖም ሪእቶታት ዝምሃሩ) ኣብ ክንድኡ ከም ገዝኣ ዝጠፋኣ ዕንዝራ ንህቢ ፈቀድኡ ዚዝ ክብሉ ዝውዕሉ ኣሎዉ። ዎዮ ደኣ ንጽቡቕ ዘስሞዕ እዝኒ የብሎም ኮይኑ እምበር ጽሑፍስ ብመን ይጸሃፍ ብዘየገድስ ፡ ረብሓ እንተሃልይዎ ትረብሓሉ ፡ እንድሕሪ ካልእ ኮይኑ ተራይዃ ከኣ ጽሑፍ ንከመሓይሽ ኢካ ትላቦ። ግን ቫይረስ ቫይረስ’ዩ ኩሉ ግዜ።

    • shilan March 14, 2018

      The village fool/idiot you say too much just to mean so little, did you learn it all at your diQala evil Islamic ELF mendef village madrassa with your “Halima fiancee”, her mom and also grand mom?
      I really thought your lousy pathetic poems were the most boring but your halewlows/ajewjews writing is more boring and extremely pathetic indeed. Village fool criminal Fedayin, please tell us how you were planning to support your Halima fiancee then! I bet as a savage evil shifta/bandit just like your mentor the outlawed criminal savage beast shifta/bandit I.Awate, you were probably planning to support your stinky Halima by robbing our poor peasants, by burning our Kunama’s villages and our text books, also by washing 5 times a day the vicious asses of your savage muslim barbarian Arab slave masters. Otherwise, anta diKha medeKhideKh, lemani wedi lementi village beggar, how could you even bloody support yourself, your sheer poverty and ignorance forced you to join the barbaric shefatu/bandits of the bastard Arab’s war/adventure, isn’t it wedi Gojamiye Asmelash garbage?? Last but not least, was your stinky Halima also a criminal murderer shifta/bandit of the evil Islamic barbaric ELF mendef and was she ugly fat Sudaness or Yemeni shitty????

    • shilan March 14, 2018

      meretse/fesewe villager fool, reading your pathetic comment again and again out of pity, you are truly a “HAMIYEN, Wedi Hamiyen” wahid. do you bloody spend all your lonely, boring/miserable and beggar life digesting words and creating new fake adages/examples????
      Your Gojamiye Asmelash WaTa/Hamiyen father must have trained you really well at the Gojamiye or Gonderiye asmarie beyet. As to your criminal comrade k.tewolde (Wedi Hirkam) has not impressed us with his imaginary nay enda deki Komerti/hookers life and we’ll expose his diQala mixed up fallacy soon. Your other useless hatella/tsaHitsaHi Suleiman bin Gereaneniya al poisonous HatellaGuzat snake, we’ll just send him the latest vaselines for his backsides halal jobs.

      • Simon G. March 14, 2018

        Shilan = is simply ወዲ ሕርካም!
        , indeed.
        —————————————-
        ኣቦኻ ኣይተፈልጦን ማለት ‘ኳ ናትና ጸገም ማለት ኣይኮነን። ግን ከኣ ክትሳቐ ክንርኤካ ከለና ከብድና ምግባር ኣብዩ። ‘ምበር ስኻ ደኣ መዓት ኣፋውስ ኳ’ዩ ዘድልየካ ኔሩ።
        ገለ ናይ ርእሲ ሓኪም ዶ’ሎ ኣብዝ ገዛ?

        • shilan March 15, 2018

          Simon G aka poisonous Embassoyra snake, Zgeremo – tsaHitsaHi bojbaj HatellaGuzay rat, Suleiman bin Gereaneniya al HatellaGuzay poisonous shit, Wedi ayte Gereaneniya HatellaGuzay hatella, you are just a waste of time diQala jerk. We have to feel sorry for your HatellaGuzay hooker mother dog to have given birth to you a San Francisco vaseline boy and those condoms sibling of yours the shefatu/bandit ELF mendef beasts who were just used up and disposed in HatellaGuzay as garbages and ignorant foot soldiers. Long life to Wedi Tembieyen anbessa to f..k you upside down a long longer.

  • meretse March 14, 2018

    Forgive me for not calling your name. By the way my fi…..cee was from Denka, SD.
    Now rest in peace and stop calling names other countries.

    • shilan March 15, 2018

      Ignorant villager fool, tell us the truth your stinky fiancee was NOT the fat/ugly Halima but it was really a savage muslim evil dog Abdurahiman of Saho shit. Poor Abdurahiman probably found your dried up village backside (due to starvation & poverty) too disgusting and too blocked up for his pleasure that he dumped you and out of the rejection you joined barbaric ELF mendef to find another Abdurahiman fiance! You should go to Afghanistan or Libya for your next search of a man/fiance and lets hope the Afghans or the Libyans manage to dismantle you properly.

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