An Escape from Eritrea

Wherever I go, I love talking to cab drivers. With unique yet strangely similar stories of struggle and mature perspectives that can only develop if you interact with hundreds of people a day, these cab drivers are like a crash course on history, culture and politics of a place. In most of my conversations with them, I prefer to remain quiet once I have broken the ice, as they voluntarily spill out their life and insights to me.

Today I rode with Joseph from Eritrea and he shared with me some interesting stories from his country, of brutality and of hope, that led me to google about this unknown country, which in turn led me to today’s Needull.

Today’s Needull, from the latest edition of The New Yorker, talks about the escape of a few Eritreans from the despotic regime of their country. With an alarmingly high defection rate, the basic storyline in itself is not new, as athletes and sportsmen from Eritrea have often tried and, on rare occasions, succeeded to defect to other African countries during international matches.

But what makes this article so interesting is how the writer takes you through this journey from the eyes of a small town footballer turned national soccer star.  Imagine taking up a sport and striving to make to the national team, just so that you can escape from the same nation that you’re going to represent.

As you’re reading this, I’m sure Hollywood producers out there are already in process of hiring scriptwriters to paint this ‘incredible true story’ on celluloid.

At last, though, he had managed to leave Eritrea. When I asked how it felt, he said, “We are one step ahead from where we were.”

Full Article Here

Alexis Okeowo – The New Yorker