Bereket is from Ghergef, a small village in Southern Eritrea. He is 28 years old. He would like to be a star. Then he would not have to worry any more. In 2014, Bereket managed to escape from Eritrea. On May 26, 2016 his request for asylum was granted.
"Something to live for"
Over the last two years, 10.000 women, men and children died in the Mediterranean. Bereket survived the passage. Inside the boat that took him from Libya to Europe, the bodies of 800 people seemed to melt into one, closely tied together for 48 hours in a life-or-death-struggle.
The day he set foot on Italian ground was the best day of his life, he says. He was well aware of the fact, that Eritrea was once occupied by Italy. However, at the tent camp - right next to the Ethiopian-Eritrean border - where Bereket and his family took shelter for ten years, one would notice neither art deco nor vanguard architecture of Colonia Eritrea whose modernistic flair gives distinction to the capital Asmara until today. Only the colonial treat of Spaghetti has prevailed nationwide. And beer.
Actually, Bereket does not really care about his country's past submission. He, who crossed so many borders, stated: "There is only one world. People may differ here and there, they may have different skin colors … but that is of no importance to manhood. A human being is a human being." One of those small but big differences that never cease to amaze him is the fact that within Europe daisy dukes are considered as clothing.
In 1998, right after finishing his first year at school, he and his parents escaped from Ethiopia to Eritrea. Back home in Bademe they had been farmers, supporting themselves with millet cultivation.
They were well received in Eritrea, Bereket says. At the tent camp, he would go to school for eight years. Right after his own decision to end his education he took notice of a man building roofs. He was fascinated by the required skills. Bereket became an apprentice to the manufacturer, building his first roof after only two months.
His family had become bigger over the years, and tradition had it, that being the eldest he had to take care of his five siblings and his parents. In the village of Ghergef, a day's journey away from the tent camp and in a fertile region, he created his family's new home by building a roof: a thatched Agedo. His parents live inside of it until this very day. The "show house" attracted customers and jobs. And all of a sudden his life became a constant flow: getting up at 6 am, taking a 2 hours walk, breakfast at 8 am with his family. Afterwards, he would start to work, feeling strong and refreshed.
He would build four to five roofs per month, made of sari, a specific kind of straw. Each roof would be of braided sari and held by a construction of 17 half and 4 entire palisades. In June his work as a roof builder would end. He would then farm in the wet season between July and September. From September to January he would wade into harvesting.
When he was off work, he would go to the local bar after breakfast, to listen to the old men's tales. Women were not allowed to participate. Bereket always loved poems, especially in combination with music.
Upon arrival in Khartum, the capital of Sudan, he called his parents. He had run away without telling anyone. He did not want them to suffer. His life had changed. There had been so much stress, his fear of being arrested, that he might be forced to serve in the military for the rest of his life. Until today, his father cries when talking over the phone with his eldest son. It is uncertain when the family will get together again. Bereket would like to bring his 15 years old brother to Germany. And of course his girlfriend too.
His first attempt to escape failed in 2012. He ended up in an Egyptian prison close to the Israeli border. They arrested him for three months, and then he was deported. Those are the worst days of his life. Back then he totally lacked confidence of ever making it to Europe. So he decided to go to Israel.
The stories of those who had been to Germany and who came back voluntarily clearly impressed him and showed him where to go next. Their stories about Germany and the Germans matched those he had learned through media. So in 2014 he started out a second time, through Sudan, Libya, crossing the ocean to Italy. From Rome to Germany he took the train.
When talking about his life he says there is no heavy burden. To him it is a regular life and up to him to create it. To him there is even lightness. As there is always lightness in the world. "Something to live for."
In May 2016, Bereket started to build a roof in the tradition of the people at Ghergef in the garden of the Museum of European cultures. AGEDO - a/no roof over one's head is part of the joint exhibition "daHEIM: glances into fugitive lives" by KUNSTASYL and Museum Europäischer Kulturen in Berlin.
AGEDO - [without] a roof over the head
AGEDO - [without] a roof over the head
To build his first roof in Germany, Bereket needed a truckload of straw, 200 meters of willow and hundreds of meters of string. Aymen, the architect, is assisting.