On September 18, 2001 Issias Afwerki dealt justice in Eritrea the worst blow ever…the following morning Eritreans were all silent because they didn’t want to make things worse…they were never heard from again… ever!  

I can’t believe it is 13 years… thirteen long years!  in those years many have gone to early graves, wishing to see the eyes of their loved ones one last time… regretting not having done anything about it and perhaps hoping against hope that things will be better soon for those left behind .

September 18 has left us Eritreans looking at the world pass us by, whilst we stand on life’s platform dazed and gazing at the train and its passengers wishing we were on it too. Life doesn’t bother to stop to help us on board and its passengers only ever pay a fleeting attention to the hapless stranded throng that we have become.  

I don’t know what would have happened to us, as a nation had September 18, 2001 been like September 18, 2000… another September on the calendar. Maybe things wouldn’t have been any better than they are now… after all there were disappearances before September 18, 2001 too and we did go into the senseless war three years before… but then again I can’t help thinking it is actually on that day that we should have realised that the world is about to take off without us … we didn’t!

Was it gullible hope or stupid wishful thinking that duped us into thinking we are actually on-board and the missing were only temporarily so? Perhaps it is a bit of both; many lazily thought someone else would, as always, deal with this one too. Someone else will sacrifice something and put us back on track. It took months maybe even years for many of us to realise there really is no one left and by that point it would be too late… we had listlessly stood on the edge for too long on the concourse of the fast vanishing train purposelessly watching every opportunity slip by. The regret has itched itself into our collective expression to become a personification of our defeated national spirit.

The numbness that came and settled like a dark cloud over Eritrea that day, continues to make it impossible for us to react to all tragedies that happened ever since. Our anguished cries are muted so as not to be heard beyond that dark cloud… our cries for help are tempered by the weird cocktail of emotions that has become poisonous and fight back only comes in the form of fleeing feet often from silent death to tragic death….

A nation of voiceless shadows mutely watching the world go by… we celebrate the death our nation as we rescue one dead child after another from the clutches of a ruthless dictator, a heartless trafficker or an angry tide. We buy our way back to our own country to bury the old who have died regretting the many moments they lived as a throng of shadows. And then we silently promise each other that next year will be different even as we raise our hand to wave as another year full of hope and aspiration whizzes by with the rest of the world aboard, everyone has forgotten that there used to be life here. There once lived people who wanted something out of life too…Will it be farfetched to will us into stopping, waving the years away into raising a feast to fight back?

It is September 18, 2014…this silence has lasted 410,227,200 seconds…