Now On View in the Toni Rembe Freedom Theater
(Bet Timhrti Sewra, or, Revolution School)
In 1989, the painter Ficre Ghebreyesus returned to Eritrea for the first time since he left on foot at age 16 in 1978. He flew from the United States to Khartoum, Sudan, the first country where he lived as a refugee and traveled to the Sahel region of Eritrea, which was the base for the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF). There he worked for nine months, living with teacher colleagues who slept in the out of doors and in caves to protect themselves and the children from air strikes. He brought his camera and a videocamera and documented the community during this time. Under the constant threat of bombings, children (many from nomadic or semi-nomadic communities) were educated in an EPLF program called Biet Tmhirti Sewra, which translates to “Revolution School” and was nicknamed “Zero School.” Children were taught a curriculum designed to create responsible and resourceful citizens in order that they would one day build a free and prosperous country. Ghebreyesus captures the children and adults of Biet Tmhirti Sewra as they learn, work, eat, sing, paint, dance and protect themselves from the Ethiopian Derg Regime’s air strikes.
This is some of the footage from his stay.