It is difficult to write about my father, as most of his life story is still a mystery to me. But I have had many requests from my Eritrean brothers and sisters, especially from the older generation, to share the information I do have.
My father’s name was Araia Tesfamariam, as is mine. On his official U.S. documentation is middle name is listed as Selassie. I am not sure where this came from as none of his family members that I have met to date can remember him having that name. He was born in a small village called Akrur but he quickly moved to live in Adi Kieh at a very young age after his mother died. His father was known in Adi Kieh as Bilata Tesfamariam Solomon, a man of some responsibility in that town.
As a young man, my father moved to Asamara where he was know by several nicknames: Araia Celentano (because of his favorite movie star) and Araia Vinac due to the job he had driving a Vinac pharmaceutical truck all over Eritrea and northern Ethiopia.
He came to the United States in the early 1970′s and spent some time in DC before moving to Dayton, Ohio to attend Central State University. While in this country, my father along with his friends sent money back home to support the efforts of the EPLF. He met my mother soon after and they were married in September on 1977. He passed away in a car accident in North Carolina in March of 1978, three months before I was born.
One of the real blessings that came from meeting my father’s family in the US is that my cousin Andat was able to supply me with a family lineage. He has a very detailed family tree and gave me the names of my forefather’s going back almost 700 years. The following is a list of them ending with my name.
Sembet Mehary Tesfa
Kartema Sembet Mehary
Araia Selassie Tesfmariam (My Father)
Araia Patrick Tesfamariam (Me)