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Shabait.com: Eritrea’s Treasures are Distinctive for Unrivaled Reasons

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Written by Yosief Abraham Z. |

Articles - Q & A

Recently, J.K. Marcel Claxton released an E-book about Eritrea.
The book, featuring a diverse array of inspiring and thought-provoking images, covers a variety of topics from both pre- and post-independence Eritrea. Today, we are privileged to have the opportunity to with author J.K. Marcel Claxton.

J.K. Marcel Claxton’s connection to Eritrea…

I arrived here [in Eritrea] in 1962 as an expert in business ethics and business law for some enthusiastic Arabian traders who had interest in doing business in Eritrea. The main areas of focus were the salt industry, fishing, building materials, agriculture, and less often, mining.

Remembering the 1960s…

Undeniably, significant political movements were developing throughout the country. As I note within the prefatory parts of my book, Eritreans were focused on strengthening their struggle so as not to become Africa’s Poland. Recall that in 1795, Poland was gobbled up by its neighbors because it was not strong or well prepared. Unemployment, poverty, and political interference, among other issues, were also dominant concerns and bad omens of the primitive colonial system.

Preparing a pictorial E-book…

I used 183 black and white pictures which I took before and after Eritrea’s independence. Imagine a country which was negligible to have its own path and consequently entered into the quagmires of war. And currently, what has been attempted within several segments of the media is the defamation of Eritrea. Thus, even though I am not a literal expert, my work of 287 pages presents a more balanced, reasonable, and encouraging account.

The reason why women are so dominant in the book…

I have visited 43 countries, 21 of which are in Africa. However, Eritrean women are amazing. Since first joining the fighting units of the 3rd military regiment in 1967, they have been pivotal drivers of national socio-economic and other developmental programs. What I have seen in Liberia, Barbados, Central Republic Africa and other countries have been elaborated for comparative merits. Thus, to limit the context of my coverage, I have investigated 103 fields, and in regard to Eritrea women, within all these fields they are playing transformative roles.

Perspective on teachers…

After graduating with my MBA in England, I came from Riyadh to Eritrea with Yemeni traders. Contrary to what I had in my mind, the teachers in this country during the 1960s were good idols of their society. During my tours for business across different parts of the country, that was something that was continually reinforced. You can ask parents and students of that time if they remember—for instance in Asmara—teachers like Tsedal Beraki, Abeba Bokretsion, or the twin sisters Martha Yacob and Miriam Yakob, among others. In this regard, I extend my gratitude to Mr. Alemseghed Tesfay, a great Eritrean historian, for archiving something about them.

On post - independence Eritrea…

I was here when you were celebrating the results of your referendum on May 24th of 1993. In fact, I learnt how devastating the war was; the cities and villages of this country were changed into garrisons and military depots. When I returned in 2001, the country had moved in another direction; particularly, the rapid development in Massawa, which in 1989 had 83 military depots until the route to Ghindae, is something that fills my heart with a great sense of triumph and appreciation. And I am able to breathe freely that the country is now equipped with undeniable notions for raising itself. I am also excited to experience the national celebration of the 25th Silver Jubilee of Eritrea, for which I will arrive into Eritrea on May 13th.

His role in narrating about Eritrea…

I sometimes ask why a country of tenacity and resilience has been the victim of incessant attacks and corroded journalistic practices as exemplified by “reports” on polygamy, mining activities in Bisha, and Eritrean women? My role or concern is not to counter every misleading story. Yet, I have organized four successful pictorial exhibitions of Eritrea – in Tuscan (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), Conakry (Guinea) and North Dakota (USA). I think I have to expand on this.

Final thoughts…

It is like what someone said to me last year in Windhoek (Namibia); why is it that all the superpowers have respective embassies in Asmara? I’ll leave it to others to ponder the answer. But personally, I believe that you attempt to keep images in the way you like to be portrayed. The truth is on its way to prevail.


ደርፊ ሻማ - መርሃዊ ተወልደ and Cos!!