The Drama “I am your brother” By Karl Hoff Symbolized the harsh life of prisoners of conscience in Eritrea –
By Petros Tesfagiorgis 4 May 2017 was an evening of celebration and discussion in recognition of Dawit Isaak being awarded the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The ceremony took place on 03 May 2017. The evening
By Petros Tesfagiorgis
4 May 2017 was an evening of celebration and discussion in recognition of Dawit Isaak being awarded the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The ceremony took place on 03 May 2017.
The evening was organised by Arts for Action in partnership with The Royal African Society, Amnesty International, Pen Eritrea, and Pen International, with support from Cultures of Resistance. An amazing support by the International community in solidarity with the oppressed people of Eritrea. The event is publicized on Assenna.com
And you tube therefore my article is focussed on the play only where I happen to act as Dawit Isaak. I took the role by coincidence when the actor playing Dawit withdrew. It was good coincident because the play was in English translated from Norwegian language, I got the opportunity to use some Tigrinya words.
About Dawit Issak:
In order to reflect his pain and sufferings in the play, I set out to read more about Dawit and his work. I have to confess I knew little about his work. My Setit connection was with Vanessa Berhe’s uncle, Seyoum Tsehaye – who was also an incredibly talented journalist. And an EPLF photographer during the struggle. (We faced a unique problem together – to be expanded in part 2)
Dawit wrote poems, short stories, newspaper articles and plays. He worked closely with Fessehaye Yohannes (Joshua) who died in jail in 2007. Together they created the Children’s theatre group SEWIT and the acrobat group Circus Eritrea. It is a revelation that Dawit and Joshua were stars shinning during the short life of the newspaper “Setit”. So are the other young journalist like Seyoum Tsehaye whose writings and interviews with women fighters were critical that exposes the way PFDJ was mishandling the society and the economy of Eritrea. All those young journalist were the great asset for Eritrea. Cry my beloved Eritrea. We should not allow their work to fade they left a powerful legacy.
I set out to write about the play because I wanted to share my feeling in that moment in time. There is lack of understanding of the plight of the prisoner and their families, those who are comfortable in the Western Democratic countries are not aware of. In the PFDJ dungeons every circumstances conspires to make the prisoner lose hope. All the familiar goals in life are snatched away. The worst and the most inhumane is not to allow family visits.
It is different when one put his/her feet into someone else’ shoe. Mine into the shoes of Dawit. In that moment in time I felt the pains and suffering of Dawit I was in agony.
The wife visits him in his dream, the start of the play.
THE PRISONER´S WIFE
Hey my husband, hi – years ago, you said I could call in on you anytime I wanted, so here I am again. To remind you of the Parent-Teacher meeting. And to remind you, as your wife and the mother of your two children, that everything, everything you stood for and spoke so passionately about – loving your neighbour, freedom, caring for others, like you always said, sticking together, being open, everything, all of it, you have betrayed all of this as regards us here in Norway – as you lie there, or sit there, so politicized, in some prison or other in Eritrea. – I have to go now, I have another meeting. Don’t forget the Parent-Teacher meeting. It’s about your daughter. Your child’s future
(THE PRISONER wakes abruptly from the dream, panting heavily)
Ahh! – Ooohh! – YES! – Yes, I know, I know. I know, Helen. I know. – Aaahh. – I know. – But Helen, (Sound of his breathing, and of his body as he changes position.) HE SAYS
And here, there’s no one here. Never anyone. (Silence.) – I’ll never reproach you for anything, Helen. It was me, I was the one who left you. But back then, no one could have known, that it would all end in this. We thought things would work out well. (Silence.)
It’s so quiet here. I can never get used to it. The silence – in this prison hell. (In the distance a dog barks.) There’s no freedom in Eritrea any more. As long as we’re all locked up in here no Eritreans is free.
Helen said, “Remember that long quotation you helped me to learn by heart, that one from Wole Soyinka’s book? (Then the three artists started to sing the song by Wole Soyinka which goes
“I ANOINT MY FLESH
Thought is hallowed in the lean
Oil of solitude
I call you forth, all, upon
Terraces of light.
Let the dark withdraw
I anoint my voice
And let it sound here after
Or dissolve upon its lonely passage
In your void. Voices new
Shall rouse the echoes when
Evil shall again rise
I anoint my heart
Within its flame I lay
Spent ashes of your hate
Let Evil die
Scene 2 the interrogation starts
(Rustles among the papers, pulls out a sheet and waves it in front of THE PRISONER.) I am asking you one more time: Do you know who it was that published this ”Open Letter to members of the Peoples Front for Democracy and Justice”, from the so-called Group of 15, on the internet?
And I say once more: In all probability they had it published themselves.
To be continued part 2