The Giant of Eritrean Literature: Musa Aron

Author and linguistics expert, the late Memhir Musa Aron

By Mebrahtu Asfaha,

I just read the news that Mr. Musa Aaron passed away. First, my heartfelt condolences go out to his family. Although, regrettably, I have never met him in person, I have known his writings for quite sometime.

I came across his writings by accident when the title of his small book “Werkha” 1 caught my eyes at the Eritrean festival. After reading the book, I became aware that Mr. Mussa Aron was a prolific writer of compelling breath and enlightening depth. He was a passionate author and linguist steeped in the finest traditions of scholarly curiosity, discovery and analysis.

For those who are interested in reading this small book of 119 pages, without spoiling the central narrative, Mr. Musa Aron narrates through insightful research and incisive writing the decadent culture of Eritrean society. However, it is not the culture of our current society, but that of the 1960s, since the first edition of the book  was in 1965.

It is one of those rare books where it is difficult to put down, and where the author condemns the dark curtains of prostitutions, thoughtless, and hedonistic life style, and insidious denial of moral aptitude. The book is a testament to his incessant laboured to resurrect and to affirm the moral vitality of our Eritrean society.

Ones you finish reading this small book you realize how Mr. Musa Aron was inspiring and masterful teacher, refreshing and talented historian, informed and thoughtful critic of his time.

Since then I caught up with all the remaining of his books including his Biblical studies, his “Dictionary of the Eritrean Names2, his “Eritreans in the Work Place3 that aims to install the protestant work ethics alla Eritrea, and his many other works and translations and have become enchanted with his writings.

My passion for reading his work is partly because I love his style of writing, as he is meticulous scholar of enormous repute where he evokes, in his writings, the cold, the isolation, the joys and the pains of the people. The other reason is partly that he reminds me how my dad used to talk where the distinct cadence of Mensae and Anseba accents are pronounced.

Mr. Musa Aaron is a dedicated teacher of the soul, and faithful guardian of the grammatical order of Tigrigna and Tigre languages where he embodies a passionate and sensitive understanding of his past in a complex simplicity that continues the story telling tradition of passing the old tales and the old memories down through the generations.

In this occasion, I invite you to read his work and to celebrate his creative voice as a talented scholar and writer of distinction and remember him for writing with unwavering faith in the creativity of the human spirit, and for keeping us companion, the many lonely nights through his exquisite and prodigious writings.

May his soul rest in peace.

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1 Hedri Publishers, Asmara, Eritrea. Pp. 119, March, 2003. Second Edition
2 Toronto, Canada. 1994. Pp. 306
3 Musa Aron, First Edition 2004