Forty-nine of us, forty-eight men and one woman, lay on the green waiting for the spike to open.
The Departure of a Good Man: We usually try to limit article lengths to pages, and when a piece is longer, we will usually serialize it. But then, there are some articles that have to be read at one sitting…preferably printed, preferably on a lazy Sunday morning. This article by Aklilu Zere—all 26 pages, all of the nearly 13, words— is one of My reflections on the world according to deaf people.
Enjoy, and see you in the comments section. Suffering is a fierce, bestial thing, commonplace, uncalled for, natural as air. The Italians did not bother to consult the people when they named their colony, Eritrea, though to their credit they named the new capital city they intended to build, and eventually did splendidly, Asmara, a word taken from the four villages that existed in that area when the Italians arrived.
The villages were collectively known as Arbate Asmara. Its effect on the monks and the women was immediate: In the highland if the monks and the women did not mind, every one else would not mind. The problem was with the sounding of the name.
The pronunciation came in all varieties and forms of sounds: Eltra, Eritra, Elitrea; Eritrea; Ertra. It was unconscious, so no shame was attached with the sounding of what they said. The monks liked the name Eritrea because it was in the Bible and referred to the very important event they preached and cherished: Arms Length Acceptance At the beginning it was not the look of the Italians that bothered the monks and thus the women.
In Eritrea there were Eritreans with very pale skin, pale faces, straight noses, thin lips and soft hairs so the white skin was not absolutely something new or strange. So was the hair. The language was also not a concern for the Monks and the women who literally believed in the story of the tower of Babel, that God gave people different tongues.
It was also good for the monks who did not want any rapport between the Italians and the people, because they knew direct communication always leads to understanding that leads to tolerance and eventually influence. No communication meant every one kept his own values. In a nutshell, it was the religion of the Italians that bothered the monks: Out of many the two fundamental values the monks wanted the people to watch out were the dietary rules and the printed revised Bible.
In due faith diligence the Monks dictated their followers not to eat anything the Italians touched or handed, even in time of scarcity, and not to touch any printed Bible lest they face excommunication exactly as they did with the Swedish missionaries.
Special warning was also handed specifically to the women concerning sugar, sweets and bleached wheat flour which the people call fino. The Monks said the Italians might use the power of sweets and bleached flour to woo first little kids and then eventually the women.
The monks knew the women were the pillars of the faith.
A convinced woman was an iron curtain. But they also knew women fight for survival. What would the women do if draught or locusts destroyed their yields and the Italians offered something?
|The Word — Breakthrough||Forty-nine of us, forty-eight men and one woman, lay on the green waiting for the spike to open. We were too tired to talk much.|
Would they say no and forgo survival? Or would they succumb to their survival instinct and diminish their faith?
The monks were wise and creative. Like they allowed the woman to have coffee, sensing the hardy highland woman had her share of weaknesses, they also allowed her to take flour from the Italians but only if she was in dire need. But to the surprise of the monks and more to the Italians she refused to touch the flour and instead she asked for grain to grind herself which the Italians happily provided.
As for the sugar, against the advice of the monks, the woman did not refuse the opportunity to take if the Italians offered and started using it to sweeten her bitter coffee. The monks were not worried with the flour or sugar, for they knew they were harmless.
Their biggest worry was the Italians might use those as baits for conversion or worse influence new eating habits that transgressed the Church rules. So when the woman stuck with her faith and values albeit using sugar, the monks celebrated like nothing before and their trust towards the woman was cemented forever.
The men were not of too much concern for the monks because they knew men would err, but would eventually come back to their faith, the faith of the woman that raised them in her back and her lap. Though they came as colonizers, they never went out of their way to harm or upset the women.If you are a teacher searching for educational material, please visit PBS LearningMedia for a wide range of free digital resources spanning preschool through 12th grade.
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THE SPIKE. It was late-afternoon. Forty-nine of us, forty-eight men and one woman, lay on the green waiting for the spike to open. We were too tired to talk much.
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