Move beyond boundaries

 The UK wide Youth Gathering event hosted by three young men and one young woman took place with the aim to empower the role of the Eritrean Youth in Diaspora on Sunday 8th May, 2011. The well attended event at Abrar House in London featured Human Rights activists and Artists. At the opening of the event Mrs Elisa Chyrum read a poem attributed to the youth and calling for them to step up and take initiatives and get involved in activities and asserts their historic role as leaders of the struggle for democratic change. Attendees were initially entertained by singer Hussien Mohammed Ali’s sense of humour and singing performances. Having Hussien was being first introduced to the participants; he briefly talked about his background. He then continued to give a clear and concise summary of what happened by the role of music and song to mobilise people to join the Eritrean Revolution in early 1970’s. Similarly he and the youth exchanged views about identifying potential goals where music can play part to revive and subsequently lead the youth awakening in Diaspora and within Eritrea as well. Incidentally there was a personal testimony from a young man from among the participants who explained that when he was a teenager because of he was attracted by the EPLF’s patriotic songs while their cultural band were touring Sudan he joined the EPLF and further elaborated the importance of music then.

The second guest, an artist who is a consummate professional painter delivered a stunning speech. His name is Mr Mahamud Debrom whose works of art contributed a lot during and after the armed struggle in awakening and uplifting the Eritrean Mass. Furthermore, he explained in detail the role of art played on recruiting the youth then. His paintings have so far been shown to the public on exhibitions in America, Italy, England, Germany and the Middle East and Saudi Arabia where he has a lot of admirers.  The attendees had enjoyed all his various art works that he presented them using a projector power point. They were almost all self explanatory focusing on the rich Eritrean culture, heritage and Hope. During his presentation and debates, the idea of establishing a gallery or art exhibition to promote local and global youth artists from the Eritrean Diaspora community was raised so that to encourage the Youth to express the plight of their compatriots and ultimately as a means and mechanisms for democratic change. At the closing stage when he was asked whether he had ever been approached by any Eritrean Youth in London seeking assistance to improve his/her art skills? He replied, no. What a shame and lost opportunity.

Then, it was the turn of Isaias Asfaha, an ex EPLF freedom fighter and singer who joined the EPLF when he was barely 13. He said, “I was not born a talented singer/musician although I was influenced by patriotic music when I went to join the struggle at such an early age. In addition, he mentioned that the taste of time in music and art is vital as taste do change; as we live in a society taste is not individual so it has to be shared. From his vast personal experience he also gave factual accounts about the cultural organisation band that he was part of touring the globe entertaining and doing propaganda to gain the support of the Eritrean Mass beside the struggle for the liberation of Eritrea. He continued,” almost everything is influenced by music/songs so if we want to reach our goals in successfully awakening the youth music would be the ideal tool”. Following that during the debate, questions, comments and suggestions Isaias expressed his willingness and readiness to work with other musicians to mobilise the Mass, promote events which encourages and has the message and aims for democratic change and entertain the opposition umbrella, particularly the Youth.

Next a human rights activist, who came to England a year ago, had been actively operating from Sudan for so long is Mr Yassin Mohammed Abdella of Suweira Center for Human Rights came to the stage and introduced himself briefly. He conducted lots of researches and produced extensive reports of poor human rights records of the Eritrean regime whilst he was under difficult circumstances.  Through his work he managed to raise awareness of the Eritrean human rights abuses victims and had been receiving positive responses from both International and local organisations. Finally he reminded every Eritrean, especially the Youth in Diaspora to do their utmost to get involved in human rights activities. The more the youth got involved they can effectively put pressure on the international community to intervene in Eritrea and address their demand for the release of prisoners of conscience.

Last but not least, Mrs Elsa Chyrum of Human Rights Concern- Eritrea made the long awaited speech to the attendees. During her speech she underlined that a strong Youth movement is an inspiration and hope for the people and democratic change.  She added, for Eritrea to exist and become a viable nation its youth has to be protected and looked after otherwise Eritrea will cease to stand by its own.  Considering the current situation in Eritrea she said, “There is a social change or change in demography in Eritrea due to indefinite conscription period and forced migration of the youth population and the birth rate is low so we have become an endangered species with less are born to succeed us” the emphasis was on the value of the youth. As a human rights activist Elsa called on the youth to get involved in practical help to raise awareness of the Eritrean youth plights. Finally she expressed her admiration of Mr Yassin Mohammed Abdella of Soweira and her readiness to work with him jointly in human rights issues. Both agreed to so to improve efficiency and streamline process to support the victims, refugees and bring the attention of the international community.

 Among the attendees was a youth called Habtom an ex prisoner of Dahlak who came from Canada who received a standing ovation from them. For details you can search on internet about his ordeal and escape from prison in Eritrea on a documentary film produced by human rights activists in 2006. I was fortunate to meet him personally after nearly 10 years as he has always been such a courageous person all his life. We all youth in Diaspora need a charismatic brave young man like him who can come forward and tell his story while he was still at the hands of the brutal regime.

In the end, the youth who organised the event said: “The event was a huge success and we are extremely grateful to all those who attended and contributed to the event.” 

On this occasion given the common goals we all want to reach, I hope other youth relates closely to us. We on our part welcome fostering collaboration with any individual or Youth groups or movements in any way what so ever. In this respect, I stress the need for us to maintain and establish constant contact and coordinating events together so that we can collectively play effective role.
I further assert that whether the organisers of the event or I are very keen to collaborate with Youth groups who wish to organise similar events that may interest the youth in the future.

Bereket Kahsai


May 16 2011

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