BY BEREKET KIDANE
In various towns and villages, when the Government of Eritrea held mass notifications of its martyrs the women and heroic mothers of Eritrea’s fallen received the martyrdom of their children with ululation and not wailing.
Strength and sacrifice have always been emblems of the Eritrean woman. On this International Women’s Day 2018, let us take the opportunity to recognize the strength, resilience, fortitude, and endurance the women of Eritrea have always provided and continue to provide the Eritrean State.
In addition to being icons of tradition and the gender that gestates and bears children, Eritrean women have always fought alongside their brothers as fiercely in the front lines and worked undercover in the cities in every battle or cause Eritrea has enlisted them.
Today in Eritrea, it is not unusual to see three generations of Eritrean women who have bonded over military service.
Lots of plays, poems, and songs have been written about the resilience of Eritrean women in general, and in particular the mothers of martyrs. In Eritrea, we call those mothers of martyrs “Ade Sewu’e” in Tigrigna or “Um Shahid” in Arabic.
Not to diminish the role men and fathers play in any way, but men are easily confused by politics, in my opinion. But the women of Eritrea are something else. They are loyal and steadfast to the core when it comes to matters of patriotism and the Eritrean State. This has partly to do with the special bond that exists between a mother and child and their determination to never allow the sacrifice of their children to be in vain.
We have seen anti-Eritrea forces take pot shots at Eritrean women to vent their frustration at their inability to cause fissures in the Eritrean society and lament the extensive socializing effects Eritrean mothers have on their children.
The portrait of the strong, resilient and spirited Eritrean woman since the days of the nationalist armed struggle was perhaps defined by the late Mama Zeinab Yassin Suleiman, born in the town of Afabet in 1918. Her works on the frontlines and as an activist revolutionary leader who organized and led masses in defiance of the traditional role prescribed for women of her generation is well-documented by Eri-TV. A true national icon indeed until her passing in 2005.
In today’s sovereign Eritrea, women are playing a pivotal role in cultivating the future generation while partaking in universal military training and participating in all facets of nation-building.
Not to be outdone, diaspora Eritrean women are also making their own history while recognizing and honoring the sacrifices of generations of Eritrean women who came before them.
How fitting is that this year in 2018, we are celebrating International Women’s Day in the same week as a diaspora Eritrean woman named Tiffany Haddish, who overcame tremendous obstacles in her own life and achieved against all odds Eritrean style, publicly honored the people of Eritrea on the red carpet of Hollywood’s biggest night of the year, the Oscars.
We all love her spirit and self-confidence. Happy International Women’s Day!