SAMPLING Cold Coffee in Asmara
McKENZIE came to Africa on a short-term assignment. And he stayed. In truth, he was seduced. It wasn’t the shimmering Red Sea coastline, with its fishermen casting their nets under the brilliant sun across sparking blue waters from their small wooden boats. Nor was it the warm breeze that blew across the mountains as shepherds watched their flocks grazing the timeless rocky landscape. Or the onset of the sudden monsoon rains that brought the arid plains sloping down towards
the Sudanese desert to life in an explosion of greenery. It was the people. It was their will to survive and thrive in the extremes of weather and terrain in a forgotten corner of north-east Africa that moved him.
several hundred miles, before flowing lazily north-west, up towards the town and into the Sudan in its bid to reach the Nile, where it dissipated and sank into hot desert sands.
THE frontier town lay on the road west from Barentu close to the Sudanese border. Tessenei was essentially a hub for the movement of goods and people, a bustling hive of activity, some legal, some not, much fought over during the long war with Ethiopia. Its untidy collection of flat-roofed buildings lay sprawling beneath the hills on the flood plains of the Gash River.
The river bubbled forth from the mountains of central Eritrea, ran south-west to form the border with Ethiopia for
What they are saying about Cold Coffee in Asmara
“Cold Coffee in Asmara is a compelling narrative; a gripping, well-researched account of an oppressive regime, reflecting the angst of the people and weariness of spirit in search of a better life. An informative novel reflecting the author’s lived experience and visual style of storytelling.”
Nageen Hyat, Rights and social activist, film maker and founder director of the Nomad Gallery, Islamabad, Pakistan
“A beautifully written novel with a flow of words and themes to fill the mind. It's a story of love and redemption in a hostile environment. It is one which reading groups will enjoy and those of an enquiring mind will find much satisfaction in its chapters. It leaves me feeling educated and privileged to have been with such stoic and resourceful people on their journey.”
Miller Caldwell, Novelist and humanitarian, Dumfries, Scotland
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From the lush mountains at its centre, to the arid plains sweeping westard towards the Sudanese border, then eastwards into
the semi-tropical humidity of Red Sea coastline, Eritrea, like its peoples, is a land of contradictions. Here on the Horn of Africa
the threads of Arab, African and European cultures weave a rich tapestry of life under timeless skies dating back millennia.
Left and above: The highlands at the heart of the country
provide a relatively cool, lush and fertile landscape.
Above: Indefinite periods of military conscription are a major cause of migration. Right: A woman from the Arabic Rashaida tribe, whose settlements stretch from Eritrea into The Sudan.
Right: Shida Square, marking the long war of independence and (far right) a young woman tends to her goats on the parched plains.
Left: A traditional thatched dwelling in the shadow of the mountains and (above) Asmara, the country's capital.