Honored Guests, Dear brothers and sisters, precious sons and daughters, I am extremely happy to stand her in front of you and go back 40 years to remember my years at Keren High School. Hello DEKI KEREN TSA’EDA. You are from a place of love, friendship, tolerance, and peaceful coexistence. You are the envy of the world. Before I go deeper in my speech, allow me to present to you the preparatory committee for the historic 3rd Keren High School. They are …
These were my coworkers who met, via teleconference, at least once a month for the last 2 years. They are all professionals, busy with their lives, making ends meet, and raising children, but managed to find time to organize this reunion. The fruit of their countless meetings, extensive discussions, and hard work is the presence of you.
We are gathered here today to remember Keren high school which was Keren Middle School. I am not a poet, but I want to compete with the great poets of our reunion, Sammy, Woldeslassie Tesfai and Dr. Fickak Hibtas.
I loved my School
Which was guarded by Forto and gobo Betteriyit
Protected by Combo and Dearit
Beautified and decorated by the Gardens in the environ
What a location
With Mr. Kanoni guidance and direction
We got a great education
But we got more
We learned about revolution
Which was about Justice, independence, and national salvation
I loved Sweet Keren High School
And I am sure you love it too
1. Why do we have a reunion? In this reunion we are meeting old friends, friends that we didn’t see for many years, and we are going to make new friends. By getting together, we will remember the old good days and our childhood years. Some of my best friends are the friends I made at the first reunion. The reunion is a charger, it recharges you, invigorates your energy and drive. It helps you to go back to you youth years, and reflect. To envision where you are heading, you should know where you came from. In Keren we laughed together during our happiness, and cried together during our sadness.
2. Who are we? We were students from Keren High School, when Keren had only one high school, but now we have more high schools in Keren. So, we are here gathered together from all Keren High Schools. We are deki Keren Tsada and its environs. We didn’t grow up in a complex society like DC or New York, but born and raised in a small and simple communal society where everyone knew everyone else. It was all about hikaya, wenesa and fasat. No one of us wanted to leave our beloved city, but we were forced to do so.
3. What is our mission and vision: If you refer to our mission and vision at our website, and I quote, “The Keren Secondary School re-union mission is to strive in bringing together old friends, and bridge the gap that was created due to circumstances. The re-union aims to build on shared core values. The Keren Secondary School re-union will serve to aid in learning the lessons of the past and looking forward to the future.” And here is our vision, and I quote, “It is to develop and encourage within all Keren High School attendees a legacy of relationship and belonging. To facilitate future prospects, create harmony and celebrate community.” It also states, and I quote one more time, “ This reunion is not organized by any political, religious or ethnic organization and is not for profit. It does not engage in ideological, political discourse.” As it is clearly stated that we are non-political, and not religious. Why did we chose to be non political. Unfortunately, we are divided into political groups that are antagonistic towards one another. That won’t be a reflective of our dear city; it won’t represent everyone. It is very hard to avoid politics at all cost. It is true Keren was the hub, the epic-center of the Eritrean struggle for independence. Many of my classmates were actively involved politically; they were at the forefront of the struggle risking their lives. Most of us joined the Eritrean Army and gave our heart and soul for Eritrea. Many of our dear brothers and sisters gave their lives so that Eritrea would be recognized by all nations as a sovereign country rather than a province of Ethiopia. The atrocities of Ona happened in front of our own innocent young eyes in a broad daylight during school, when the Ethiopian “tore-serawit” burned houses and killed people. We all witnessed it. It was a sad day for all of us who were at Keren High on December of 1970. The next day, many students joined JEBHA to fight against Ethiopian aggression. Ona for me, who knew nothing about politics, was a wake-up call.
4. How sweet was Sweetkeren Keren High School and Keren? Keren is the best place on the face of the earth, and I am glad to call Keren my home. Gandi once said, “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.” I guess the a good example for tolerance, mutual respect and harmonious co-existance. Bilen, Tigre, Tigringa, Saho, and of course Italian were the common languages in the streets of Keren. All the people with different cultures, traditions and religions lived together in peace, because they know they are all one big family. That is what we would like to emulate her in our reunion. Sorry, politics has divided us, but we don’t want to live divided; we want to be united. When we go to our places, we could be politicians, religious preachers, or whatever pleases us as individuals, but don’t forget, at the end, we are brothers and sisters.
5. History of the reunion: The idea of a high school reunion started in 1990th, and on 2007 at a wedding in Oakland, California, many deki Keren tsada talked about reunion, and organized a task force. In 2008, our friends, Bahlibi Tekle, Hassen Feraj, Tesfagabir Mesghina, Zaineb Warah, Yacoub Abdella,Gimai Abdella Alishek, from Toronto, Canada volunteered to take this task upon their shoulders and organized our first reunion; it was a wonderful reunion. Then the second reunion needed a lot of planning, and was conducted in DC. At that reunion, it was discussed that the reunion be in two years, and here we are. Brothers and sisters, old and young, life is too short; let’s enjoy it when we can. It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.
Ustaz Mahmud Kanoni was my favorite principal. Keren High School students have rich memories about their school, thanks to Mr. Kanoni. He worked tirelessly to make sure that every child got quality education even though Keren was a war zone. I remember one day when he came to my classroom and was scolding the few who were disturbing our classroom. I remember a lot of his quotes. One of his quotes was, “A grinning lion seems like a laughing loin.” He wouldn’t tell us directly, but he was angry at the few who would come to school to have fun and waste valuable time. He devoted his time and energy into promoting education. To me he was a father and a big brother. He was my role model, and I know he was role model to all Keren High School students. I wish him long, healthy and happy life.
Before I conclude my speech, I would like to thank our honored guests, Mr. Hugh and his wife, Mrs. Joanne Richards and her husband, Mr. Rajan and his wife, … You put smiles into our faces, and we will cherish this moment forever and ever.
Reunions are all about remembering. And what spectacular memories we have that bonded us together once again tonight. Have a wonderful 3rd reunion, and enjoy it.