On the Battlefield


26 years ago, young Selamawit Alazar wrote this moving poem for her uncle Haddish Afeworki who fell in the battlefield for the liberation of Eritrea. It was featured in Eritrea Profile newspaper.

On The Battlefield, poem by Selamawit Alazar on Eritrea Profile, Aug 27, 1994 On The Battlefield, poem by Selamawit Alazar on Eritrea Profile, Aug 27, 1994

I wrote this poem in memory of my uncle, Haddish Afework, whom I never got the chance to see and also to my many brothers and sisters who sacrificed their lives to provide us with the freedom which we enjoy.

I hope this poem reminds us all that the price thar was paid was very high and that it is our time to take responsibility for building the country for which they died to free.

When he died
The Sun did not darken
No veil torn in half
Nor did the thunder roar
To announce his departure
…just silence.

When he died
No face turned purple
No lips trembled
No eyes poured tears
Nor behind doors
The retelling of his death
…just silence.

And on the next day
No newspaper paid tribute
On the obituary
No service
proclaimed his braveness
No hymn
glorified his life.

There was no coffin
To wrap his flesh
Nor did he get
The privilege of a grave
A chance to be with others.

He lay alone and silent
In the middle of
A deserted battlefield
With an expressionless face
Only in the company
Of scavenger birds.

Meanwhile in town
His mother boasted about her son
“He is a brave soldier.”
She would say.
Looked for a perfect girl
For her son.
Confident he would come back.

When 15 years later
His death was announced
It took her by surprise
She failed to realise
For every dawn there is a sunset
But not necessarily
For every crib a casket.

~ Selamawit Al-azar
Vancouver B.C.

Fallen hero Tadesse / Haddish Afeworki, Gagget - Sahel, July 14, 1979" Fallen hero Tadesse/Haddish Afeworki, Gagget - Sahel, July 14, 1979

  • Every day we are making Eritrean history. Let’s tell them. Soon they may be forgotten.