This year’s Eritrea Festival in Frankfurt was once more honoured by the presence of long-time friends of Eritrea from Sweden: 94-year old Journalist Bo Bjelfvenstam, who visited Eritrea in the 1960s, and Christina Bjork who joined his team in the 1970s for repeated visits to liberated areas carrying lots of support to needy Eritreans in the countryside.
In her nostalgia-filled inspiring address to the main Festival Panel on Saturday, 3 August, Christina spoke on behalf of herself and Bo. She lamented that Eritrea today “is an independent country, but not the country it could have been,” and hoped that the people will rise up and become masters of their long deferred dreams by dislodging the dictatorship and foiling those “who conspire in the background and prioritize their own power and wealth.”
Speaking about nonagenarian and still strong Bo, she said it was because of him that the Swedish people “understood that an unjust war was going on against the Eritrean people.” Bo wrote reports on Eritrea, produced films and TV programmes and a drama about the Eritrean struggle. He was probably the first Swedish journalist to interview Emperor Haile Selassie and ask him of what was going on in Eritrea!
Bo was among the Swedish citizens in 1970 that became part of a solidarity outfit called Eritrea Gruppen and asked young Christina to join it, which she did.
Christina Bjork herself produced in the early 1980s a film on Eritrea called The Land by the Sea. The English version of her resent book, Eritrea: A Classic African Dictator Took Over, was launched at Eritrea Festival 2019 and attracted many buyers.
Speaking about the book, Christina Bjork, who was appreciative of the dedicated struggle for democracy within the ELF, remarked: “the winner writes the history, but I wanted to hear the stories of those who belonged to the other side.” Hur ser deras historia ut ? However, her book contained not all what former ELF fighters had to tell but also included extensive interviews with former EPLF members.
She says: “They told me why they participated in the liberation struggle, how they were living in the liberated Eritrean areas during the war... aOch varför utvecklades Eritrea till en diktatur?nd why did Eritrea develop into a dictatorship?”
Över femtio år har gått sedan den väpnade kampen för ett fritt Eritrea inleddes och Eritrea har nu varit ett självständigt land i tjugo fem år.Her interviewees included Martyrs Ahmed Nasser, and Dr. Habte Tesfamariam; and Dr. Yusuf Berhanu; Mesfin Hagos; Gherezghiher Tewelde; Menghesteab Asmerom; Adiam Teferra, Arhe Hamednaka, Rezene Tesfazion and many others. Their story is part of the Eritrean history that deserves interested readers’ attention.