Over the past year I have been repeatedly struck by the sacrifices and endurance of Tigray women in the Ethiopian Tigray conflict. I used to live a block from the Mekelle University Business School campus where there was a statue of young teenage female fighter who died fighting the Derg and I am deeply sorry I cannot recall her name but the symbolism and message that sculpture carried I do understand so clearly now.
During the Easter season we mostly think about the sacrifice of Jesus on cross who was resurrected on the third day after his crucifixion. What we often do not focus on is the courageous and caring role women played in Jesus’s human life as role models and care givers who themselves suffered for the benefit of others. Mary known as Mariam in Tigray whose love and care for her son whom she had to watch suffer on the cross. God choose the “three Marys” to be the first witnesses to Jesus resurrection and tell the Apostles. More then once God has chosen women to be messengers of faith, hope, and truth. The women of Tigray have repeated that role. They often bear the greatest burdens of sorrow while showing the most courage.
Even though terrible atrocities were suffered by hundreds of thousands of Tigray women including rape, mutilation, watching their loved ones killed or starved, displacement, and isolation from family they as a group have shown a superhuman resilience to survive. Young women joined the Tigray Defense Force, other women while trying to keep their children alive still cooperated with community efforts to gather food and water. They willingly gave up their sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, and even grandfathers to join the armed struggle for freedom at their own personal peril.
When I review who is on social media writing in support of humanitarian aid and the suffering of Tigray I see many young diaspora women, often highly educated with advanced degrees and successful professional careers in developed countries, who mobilized to save lives and spread truth to the world. Most of them identify themselves openly risking not only ad hominem personal internet harassment but even physical attacks at demonstrations by agents of the Eritrean and Ethiopian governments.
Many times these virile attackers on Tigray women are anonymous making one wonder if they are really ashamed of what they do. The others who I will not name attack the womanhood of Tigray diaspora which only degrades the speaker by demonstrating her ignorance. They never talk about relieving suffering but instead are filled with hate and a unending pre-occupation with vengeance. I pray they will let the God into their hearts because mercy and peace are needed now more then ever.
I further pray the world will accept the Tigray women as messengers of truth and act without haste to relieve the suffering.