Earlier this month, the East African countries of Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace deal, after decades of severed relations. The two nations fought a war in the 1990s after which all connection was cut off. No diplomatic ties, no trade, no transport — not even phone lines — despite a shared heritage and decades of intermarriage and close cultural ties.
The Bay Area has an estimated 12 thousand Eritrean, and slightly more Ethiopian residents, with large communities in cities like Oakland and San Jose. Many came as refugees decades ago, and there’s a generation who grew up here or came as children. With their parents’ generation on opposite sides of the divide, how do they relate to each other growing up together in the Bay Area, and how do they feel now?
Robael Gizachew is External Affairs director for the Horn of Africa Student Association at UC Berkeley. He’s Ethiopian. He brought his two Eritrean friends, Damon Tecle and Shishay Sabhatu and we all sat down in our studios for a chat about family trauma and healing.