A letter from Eskinder – By Girma Kassa

Girma Kassa

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May 1, 2013

Eskinder Nega with his son Nafkot

His name is Nafkot. He is a non-ordinary boy, which I believe will be remembered in history. His mother, Serkalem Fassil, was arrested and placed in rat-infested notorious Kaliti Prison for about two years since November 2005. She was then pregnant and endured heavy pains in prison, for 9 months. No mercy and compassion was she shown by authorities, since cruelty and lack of compassion has been their trade marks.

Nafkot is a miracle from God, for had it not been of the protection and grace of the Lord, a boy like him, born under such difficult circumstances, would not have been healthy.

His father, Eskinder Nega is currently languishing in prison for crimes he has not committed.  Eskinder’s articles and speeches are well listed and available in the public domain. He has been advocating dialog, respect of human rights, freedom of speech, the rule of law, and above all resolving crisis in peaceful manners. Authorities accused him as “terrorist”; but he is not a terrorist but a hero.

Eskinder could have chosen silence or exile. He could have prospered by aligning himself with the regime, as many who have sold their souls for perishable material benefits.  Surely he may have been offered many high level positions within the government to bribe and silence him.  However, he stood for principles, and chose to listen his conscious and the voice of his God. He refused to be silent in the eyes of injustice, corruption, greed, racism and dictatorship. He spoke out with courage and integrity for justice and freedom and challenged authorities. As Moses stood against Pharaoh with only a staff of a Sheppard in his hand, Eskinder stood against dictators in with a pen in his hand.

Though Eskinder has shown strength and determination not to bow down to tyranny, we must not forget that prison is painful for everyone in it. (Particularly in Ethiopian prisons). In a letter Eskinder Nega wrote from Prison, he shared the pain and sorrow he has, of not being with his wife and his one and only one boy, Nafkot.  “I wonder how old will Nafkot (his son) be when I finally get out of here” he wrote.

Let us all feel the pain of Eskinder and stood in full solidarity for noble causes he was arrested for. Eskinder Nega did his homework. Let us do ours.

It all starts from each one of us. Ethiopia is equal for all Ethiopians. There is no reason one would pay more sacrifice than others. We are all created in the image and likeness of God. God has given us a country called Ethiopia, in which we are supposed to live in peace and dignity. The EPRDF must not be allowed to continue taking away from us, our right and our dignity, that God gave us.

It is time to speak out and assert our freedom in our country. I ask that we get involved and leave no room for despair.  Let us find ways to make our voice heard and contribute. If there is a will, there will be a way.

First of all, we can all start by praying for the well-being and strength of Eskinder Nega and his family, for there is a God in heaven that despises arrogant actions, hate injustices, and listen prayers.

Let us also send a strong and powerful message to Eskinder. Let us say to him, in our actions, that he will be out from prison and get to be with his son soon, with honor and dignity, like Derartu Tulu, covering his back with the green-yellow-red flag. He may not physically see us; but he will surely hear the voice of freedom, in spirit from afar.

Let us say “No” to brutality and torture! Let us say “No” to dictatorship and ethnic politics! Let us say “No” to war and poverty! Let us say “No” to the status quo!  LET OUR VOICE BE HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR, ACROSS THE WALLS OF MINILIK PALACE AND EPRDF HEADQUARTERS.

You will find below the whole content of the letter Eskinder wrote to his wife, Serkalem Fassil, an equally brave woman and his boy, Nafkot.

Om Nafkot,

My partner, my friend, my half, my all, my love, the mother of my child, my support in life. I MISS YOU! I LOVE YOU!

The only reason I can bear being separated from you is your support. I just got the photos, I’m confused about my feelings now but I’m mostly happy. It’s so unfair that I can’t be with you to comfort you; it’s so unfair that I wait for you to get well and get back to comforting me. It is beyond unfair that I can’t hold Nafkot for hours the way I’ve held countless other babies, I gave so much love and attention to sons and daughters of friends and family. Yet I can’t do the same to my own child.

I wonder how old will Nafkot be when I finally get out of here, I wonder what else I will miss? His Sobo3? The first time he grips your fingers? The moment you realize he is focusing his eyes on you? Or is going to be even worse and I’ll miss his first smile? What does it feel to hold him? How does he smell? How does he sound when cries? My son, our son, our little Nafkot. I showed the photos to everyone in the cell, they’re genuinely happy for me but like everything in this cell it is all subdued, made me feel more alone and lonely. 

I miss you so much.  It hurts. I guess you know the feeling.  I’m overwhelmed by how unfair it is, how meaningless it has become at this stage, but I know we are both in good hands. Nafkot is blessed with the unconditional love of not just his parents but large extended families and hundreds of aunts and aunties. I hope he grows to appreciate it all.


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