Ahmed Nasser, Fifty Years of Quest

Fifty Years. Fifty years of Struggle. 50 years of wandering.  50 years of endless search.  50 years of yearning. 50 years of loss. 50 years of hope.

No doubt, it is heartbreaking to learn one of the established and respected names in Eritrean history, Ahmed Nasser pass away exactly 50 years after he left to join the struggle for independence. For fifty years, he searched for it: for the realization of the dream of free, reconciled and democratic Eritrea. The dream that connects, yet eludes generations of Eritreans, his generation, his previous generation and the succeeding generation. The quest is the inheritance. For fifty years, as a sojourner, he wandered the desert of history in pursuit of the promised land; his beloved nation for whom he gave Everything he had. Alas!

Five-Zero. Fifty years!

It is indeed mind-boggling to remember how long Eritreans have been engaged in the struggle that has yet to be finished. Ahmed Nasser spent half a century without setting his foot in his nation! Literally, the time-span easily surpasses the proverbial 40 years of time in the wilderness and time of testing before the deliverance. By a decade! It is as if the rules of time, biblical time-references don’t apply to us. No matter how you think of it, one can’t escape staring the brutality, the urgency of our struggle, its longevity, its failures.

The pursuit of a goal loftier than oneself prerequisites selflessness of the willing and the devotion to the Cause. The pursuit of Eritreans for independent and democratic Eritrea made heroes out of ordinary people. It is the organic Cause of our freedom that ‘cleanses’ and immortalizes them. Because the desire to be free from oppression (whether domestic or foreign) is an innate hunger that can’t be cajoled, or bullied or tamed; it can only be answered with selfless devotion. The selfless tools of that noble Cause could be gone; but they are where we start from. The past.

No matter what, we have to salvage our past to make peace with it for our own sake, if only. Its ghosts are still living and its living are haunting and haunted. Traducing the past and gutting it of its essences, of its heroes and professing to create a stable future equates to building a house out of sand. Given the paucity of our sacrifices in times when much is required to fight tyranny, indeed, humility should get the best of us. Our heroes may not be the rocks we wanted them to be. The savage politics of Eritrea may have been unrelenting to individual actors. But their offering was indubitable and long in time-span; their Cause, immaculate.

Ahmed Nasser is an Eritrean hero. Unlike others, and like others (most ELF leaders), in his departure, the nation may not have comforted him in her bosom for eternal peace. It may not be able to offer him, the least he deserves for his sacrifice, the few meters-by-two in its hallowed ground to usher him a place among the hundreds of thousands who loved it more than their lives. Yet; for sure it remembers him, fondly; it is weeping, quietly.

A kind mother doesn’t forget its children, does it? Those she has seen in decades, she remembers them the most. For those sojourners in far away land, who constantly remember the name Eritrea till their last days, how can she fail to repay them in the only way she knows? Eritrea has depicted the name Ahmed Nasser in the pages of the best and the finest of all sacred texts: the book of Eritrean Heroes. Oh! Don’t look around searching where it is found! It is there, in the hearts and minds of 4.5 million people who are proud to call themselves, Eritreans. Eritrea honors its heroes. We Eritreans honor our heroes. We honor and evocatively remember Ahmed Nasser.

I humbly call upon each of us to take this solemn moment to renew our vow that the dreams of him and the dreams of generations of Eritreans will not be in vain.

Sure, it may take us more than we can offer. We may wander for 40 plus years in the wilderness.  We will enter the destined promised land of independent, just and democratic Eritrea.

Fifty Years. Fifty years of Struggle. 50 years of wandering. 50 years of endless search.  50 years of yearning. 50 years of loss. 50 years of hope.

Though nothing can bring back the hour
of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind.
William Wordsworth

With heartfelt condolences and kindest thoughts to the family of Ahmed Nasser, his family and his compatriots.

Ghezae Hagos Berhe.


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