Eritrea Unplugged: Dumera to Ras Kasar

Like any other myth
It all begins with blood, sweat and injustice
As if life is supposed to be fair
To one and all; right here

Some are scratched on a map
Some others are fought on the ground
Some on air and online; a few more on paper
The rest is sealed in history; forever

Questions arise; to question a myth that breathes air
Like smoke in the dark that glows in glare
A story that rose from the dead
All dressed up in flesh; in need of more blood and bread

Eritrea is a perfect fit
Fits the profile of a myth
Front, sideways and back
A myth that run out of breath; or out of luck

It all began in Assab; so symbolic and dead
No wonder it holds the key; beside the sea
A labyrinth along a forgotten site
On a body of land that lost its sight

A myth is for storytelling; learn a lesson
Not to be lived; for real
It is complicated; yet so simple
Depending on how big; or little

Eritrea got it the other way round
All wrong; to start with
Along a rough road to a liberated state
That ended up in a cityscape

It all started in Dumera; or thereabouts
Not far from where humans first stood upright
In Afar land; destination unknown
So close; yet too far to own

The eyes resign to the stars above
There lies Dumera; a dune detached
A heap of sand; not even a mound
The feet however; do feel the ground

That piece of land was bought and sold
Exchanged; between the locals and a Lazarite priest
Dazed and confused; the journey begins
Who knows where in 1860s

This man of God; Guiseppe Sapeto by name
Maritime agent by chance or by trade
On a mission to convert the multitude; shall we say
Further afar; inland and along the way

Sapeto becomes a Commissar on Assab base
A property that would grow in value; prime estate
as the years go by; so does the intrigue
As customs and politics scramble and go oblique

Some try to be; somebody
Others can only imagine to be; somebody else
They go to where they don’t belong
Only to wish they hadn’t gone

They flocked to the city; for a better life
Abandoned base; for less strife
Only to discover; glitter and gloss
After burnt bridges; unaware of their loss

Asmara; city of dreams to some
Up there in heaven; high up in the mountains
A Dubai in years gone by
Another myth to live for; or die

In between; grows a colony of a kind
Eritrea; alien and Italian by design
Spread out; all red beside the sea
Like a coral reef; on a rooftop for all to see

Just a territory on a map
From Dumera to Ras Kasar
Unknown to the majority; a nation state
Lies idle beside a coastline; frozen in liquid state

Flanked by a landscape on the side; under extreme heat
Crossed by three seasons in a day
Still oblivious; to the outside world
Deeply immersed in its own; on blindfold

The people; like aliens in disguise
In scattered cultures and customs
Displaced within their land; spread across the globe
Identify themselves as Eritreans; under probe

Like dead souls crossing the sea
For an idea to die for eternity
Swallowing the young; the misguided
Crying alongside the living; the wretched

So flies a myth; gliding in stories for lost time
By a bunch of hired potters; baked on hot marble
Feet on dry land; trying to mend pots broken to pieces
By more injustice

Having stamped on the mud; manufactured
In all sorts of languages; mixed
A shape emerges; a nation in mind
A cyst; a colony of another kind

Twisting and turning; trekking the mountains
Living in caves
Raging mad; infighting
Cutting against the grain; not knowing

For a heavenly city of dreams
Up there on the highlands
To have and to hold; against all odds
Begins the downhill journey; of ruins

What is there to expect after all
After a struggle of unsustainable survival
Other than taking a deep sleep; with nothing to spare
Snore like a pig; into another nightmare

Sharpening their skills for sustainable insanity
Behind a shop window of sovereignty
Fertilized by perpetual conflict; a green house of national emergency
Generating a permanent state of mental instability

In what looks like a place
A pottery; a factory of new breeds
Brand of pots made of flesh
Held together by dead bones; fired afresh

Heaven can wait; burn first
Comes the borderline; a deadline to cross
Until a guard calls; no one can blame
Conscription is the password; Name?

Traditions aside; centuries old
Abandoned; left to rot and rust
Beheaded; so to speak
A mission is drawn; to climb the peak

There are stones everywhere; for love stolen
Headstones to remember; the fallen
Here and there; as if they matter
Along the road; the day after

A pot stands; still
Disemboweled by their own hands
Disfigured to beyond recognition
As they sit and gaze the skies; in oblivion

It was a state; after all
Of mind; before then
Traumatised in bygone times; lost in itself
In between; unaware and deaf

A mouth-watering journey begins
Uphill; in search of water they left behind
Against gravity; they climb
Only to deny; or justify their crime

Water finds its way; here and there
It goes up or down; depending
Goes underground; if it must
Overruling the law of the land; thus

Dumera and Kasar; come to mind
Forever there; marked to kingdom come
On seashores with no lighthouses; hopeless
Points on a map; shrouded in darkness 

Markers; they are
Dumera and Kasar
As if hired by some powers
They hold the cards; for more blood and skulls

Then come the gullible; salad starters on a new menu
Ready to be consumed before the fire
For a monopoly game; never displayed
For a life yet to be fried

Would you believe? Asks a mother
My only son gave his eyes
For a nation he has never seen
Unbelievable as it may sound; true to heart it does feel

The weight of it all; not over yet
The daughter is forgotten
She is out there in the field; not hidden
Dying and waiting; fighting to the end

The Eritrea in Eritreans is ground to dust
Cut down to size; at last
Good heavens! Gravity has taken its toll
Toxic memory took a plunge; down a waterfall

After the mist cleared; years later
A recycled Eritrean is thinking; what was the matter?
Confused by culture and a new identity; cloud gazing
It woke up yet to another myth; eyes blinking

Undone; shredded to pieces
Like words that do not make any sense
Devalued to a currency of nothingness
Among a collection of items; marked as priceless

Not visible to the naked eye
A cult emerges masked behind a pride; so high
Inflated beyond its real value
Without paying its due

Uncultivated; detached and rootless
A mushroom in the clouds
Almost immune to gravity; out of sight
Left to speculate in the dark; restless

The blind believer; picks up a string
Like that silent note to a ring
Composed of lines on canvass; without a drop of paint on screen
Pulls a fabric of many colours; yet unseen.

Gabriel Gaungul
8 May 2013

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