The Happy Times Before the Misery – By Samson Solomon

This picture has been taken in 1994; a couple of years after Eritrean independence, and shortly after referendum. Although I was very young, I remember the day vividly. It was the first big wedding in

This picture has been taken in 1994; a couple of years after Eritrean independence, and shortly after referendum. Although I was very young, I remember the day vividly. It was the first big wedding in our extended family, following those national events. The bride and bridegroom came from Germany after many years in exile and got married that day. Not only for the couple, the wedding ceremony was a rare family occasion for many of the relatives and friends too.

These two cousins hugging each other happily are Ogbe Abraha Engda and Solomon Habtom Engda, both veterans of the liberation struggle. One doesn’t even need to examine the photograph deeply to see the vivid happiness in their eyes.  For me, the mixture of endurance and joy, the “Yes we made it!” attitude is clear in their glowing smile. Indeed, it was a celebration for making it together through the good and the tough times.

That day was probably the happiest in their life. The pain they endured, the brothers and sisters they buried, their fathers who passed away before the independence was achieved were all forgotten just for that moment. Yes, a moment worth spending life in hell.

They were surrounded by all family members and love was flying everywhere. People were dancing, laughing; hugging each other … it was an exceptionally glorious day.

It didn’t take that long for the honeymoon like atmosphere to get disrupted though.  A couple of years after the’ border war’, in September 18th 2001,  Ogbe Abraha has been arrested and two years later his cousin (my father) Solomon Habtom followed him to prison. That sweet day of joy was never to be repeated again. The happiness was replaced by sorrow, the smiley faces covered with tears; family members forced to scatter all over the world. There are no words to express the excruciating pain deep in our hearts.

Beyond the nostalgia and pain however, I have learned something interesting from my dear father and cousin. They thought me that there is light after darkness and hope after such challenging times. They showed me how to love my people, my family and myself. Nobody can take that lesson away from me.

I have a dream; one day, all their sons, daughters and grandchildren… all family members who are left behind will have even bigger get together in Eritrea, in the land they are buried at. Yes, one day, I will hug my cousin ( Ogbe’s son), Mehari Ogbe; and we will both have broader smiles than what you see on this very picture of my cousin and my dear father who just passed away in prison last month.

Review overview
  • Danilo September 23, 2017

    May GOD bless you and your friends. For sure, the light is on the tunnel but not spent & will not be. I think the ENGDA family will give us carriage , aspirations and happiness that prevail forever. Doom the iseyas Kingdom. We will never nill down!

  • Kiki Tzeggai September 23, 2017

    Looking at this photo and reading Samson’s letter make us smile through our tears.
    These men lived a life with no excuse and travelled with no regrets.
    We all feel like broken looking at hope in their eyes. But all they ask us is to be strong and keep fighting for Eritrea and for the creation of an Eritrean Veterans’ Day to honor them. Thank you for sharing. Kiki Tzeggai

  • Aba thimmer September 23, 2017

    It is wonderful when desperate one gives hope for others too. Samson, thank you. Keep it on!

  • AHMED SALEH !!! September 23, 2017

    Dear Solomon
    Your story reflects the reality of Eritrean suffering under HGDF authoritarian government .
    Your words of encouragement for hope and promising future speaks for every concerned
    Eritrean . I appreciate to hear words of such outstanding people who refuse to give up .
    I am sorry for your father’s death under the hand of these snakes . I hope to see the day
    of justice against everyone with blood in his hand ,
    KEEP HOPE ALIVE . izi kheman kihalf iyu , ajokha izi hawey .

  • Simon G September 23, 2017

    Yes! one day, you will have that wonderful day, Samson!
    Your father and his cousin has been punished for being smart, patriotic individuals. Just like those many thousands of Eritreans who are in jail, murdered, or missing with no trace. Their only fault was they were true to themselves and to the country they love.
    To survive and thrive in the HGDF’s world, you just need to have one or more of these criteria: don’t give a damn about Eritrea or its people, selfish, highly illiterate, or simply moron. Oh I forgot, if you are not Eritrean, it is a wonderful PLUS.
    So, your dad and his cousin didn’t own any of these items and had been considered as irrelevant to the HGDF system. However, they haven’t sold their dignity and they are well respected by the Eritrean people.
    I personally am waiting to see that promised picture of your’s and your cousin’s. One wonderful day! Good luck!

  • andom September 23, 2017

    Iseyas and his dotard criminal gangs are very close to receiving their punishment. U will see it soon. Be strong like your father.

  • Tz September 24, 2017

    Dear Samson keep up with the positive, hopeful and revolutionary attitude. Yes’ indeed it is not very long that we all the justice seekers will be back home and live in peace.

  • Sol September 24, 2017

    Dear Andom,

    ካብ ኣፍካ ናብ ማዕጾታት ሰማይ

    • k.tewolde September 25, 2017

      Indeed Sol,their smiles frozen in time,a sight where the soul retreats to reflect and soothes its pain especially the loved ones,I feel you,I have a few of my own,Somebody is going to pay for this dearly,sooon.

  • Ermias September 24, 2017

    Assenna, please remove Tsehaye’s comment and any comment that attacks Eritrea, Eritreans, Eritreans’ ligitimate armed struggle, or EPLF fighters and their families.

    • andom September 26, 2017

      Glad that abnoxious offensive comment by agame (tsehaye) was removed. Our fight and disgust is for the few traitors who fought for themselves and power while others were fighting for the people and the land.

  • ሀረጎት September 24, 2017

    ወለዶ ኢሳያስ ዕባያት አስመራ ISIS ሕዝበ ኣጋዕዝያን እዮም– ህንጣጥ ምንጣጥ ዝዐመሎም እንተስ ኣብኩናት እንተስ ብስደት ማዕረ ማዕረ ዐምሃራይ ዕንወት አውሪዶምልና–ዕባያት አስመራ —-› ሻዕብያ ወሊዶም—-ሻዕብያ ክኣ ህግደፍ ወሊዱልና– ህግደፍ ክኣ እንታይ “ዶመተራ” ክምዝወልደልና ንጽበ!!!