She was here in Eritrea for the third time to celebrate Christmas and New Year with her people. One of the growing successes in the Hollywood film industry who has earned a position among the top names in the movie business – Tiffany Haddish.
Welcome back, Tiffany. So how did you find Eritrea in your current visit?
Well, my current visit has been amazing. I spent a lot of time with my family on this trip. So that was good. I got to learn a lot about my grandmother, aunties, and many more. My favorite part was going shopping in that open market. I bought a lot of spices and herbs there. The cloth I’m wearing, I bought it here too. They made it for me in a day, where do you get to do that? I found it cool. I picked some jewelries too.
Your current visit also encompassed getting your National Id and your visit to your village, Geza-Keren, Adi- Kuala sub-zone, to get land. So tell us about that.
I inherited some land from my great grandfather who was in Geza-keren. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. We pulled over. The people. That “Elil” sound. The bells that were ringing was amazing. That was such a beautiful setup. I was like “wow, I didn’t expect any of this, I just thought I was going to check out the village”. They had dedicated a piece of land to me and I would be honored to contribute something to my village. When I visited my aunt, she wasn’t feeling good, some being there for her, supporting her and taking care of things that needs to be taken care finally made me feel at home. The people were so welcoming, we danced and went all the way to the top of the hills to see the whole area. It was beautiful and I was trying to hold back my tears. It was inspiring and realized that Africa is so beautiful and Eritrea is the gem in it. I feel a little bit upset I didn’t get to grow up here but to get here now and get the experiences is amazing. So I suggest to anyone to come here and experience everything for themselves.
How about the national Id?
It felt amazing to acquire my Eritrean Id. It felt amazing to be able to come and go to my homeland as much as I want. It had ups and downs to get here without your Id. Now, when I finish my movie, I will be like “you know what? I want to go home, I’m sick of being here”. To be able to say I have family, I have got land and I can come anytime without asking permission is what makes it beautiful.
Before we proceed to our next question, I want to compliment your outfit. I like it. It is from the kunama ethnic group attire. Wow, finally it feels like Tiffany is showing the world that she is in her home. So, Tiffany, you met with President Isaias Afwerki. How was your meeting?
It was interesting. I had a lot of questions. My whole thing in life is “never go nowhere where you can’t make it better”. If you go somewhere, go there to make it better. He is very interested in agriculture so do I. The food here is so good and same goes with the spices and herbs. So why not introduce this beautiful culture to the Americans especially African American through exporting them? Here, you can get fresh food and most of all you know where they come from. They can run about “shiro”, “enjera”. Then I was like, Mr. President I want to be a minister of market and promotion and he said no, no, not that. Again I asked and I was like I want to be a minister of inspiration then. Bam. He clearly didn’t tell me I could be a minister but on my mind I’m the minister of inspiration (chuckles).
Let’s talk about investment now. Do you plan to invest here in Eritrea?
I’m definitely planning to invest in Eritrea. I have the script with me about my first experience coming here and I want that movie made in Eritrea. They are suggesting other places but I said no, I want it here. So we are going to make sure the infrastructure and all is right but that’s not where it stops. We are going to bring American movie makers and they will teach them to upgrade what they already have. Being able to tell our stories and being able for the world to see our story and to give opportunities for the youth is worth investing for. I love food so I’m also thinking of investing in agriculture. I love Massawa, so I’ll definitely make an investment there for a resort to be built there. I noticed that there are a lot of resources here. I’m not about handouts, it’s about earning, creating and building together. That’s what I feel Eritrea is about. We are not to take handouts. You want to work with us? Cool. We do not just take, take, and take. While we are on the topic this has been an issue in Africa that has been going on for a long time. Certain people come in the continent and take things from us and trying to turn us against each other. So that time is limited and it’s not happening anymore. If someone who is not African want to work with us that is cool but only if they know how to work but not how to take from us.
This is your third visit to Eritrea. I believe you have learned a lot about the Eritrean history. So what do you say to the biased information being said about Eritrea?
Why do you think those biases are happening? That’s the core point. These things are happening and certain things are going on, so okay I hear you. So how are you going to fix this? What is your idea on the solution? Shut up! Don’t run your mouth because it will fix nothing. There are a lot of misinformation going on about Eritrea. In my opinion it has got a lot to do with colonizers. Those who don’t want to pay the locals but steal from them. Those who say a lot of bad things about Eritrea are those who got paid to tell lies.
Eritrea is fighting for peace and stability. What do you say to inspire the youth as you being part of the fight.
Definitely, Eritrea is fighting for independence and to unite the Horn Africa but not just the horn but the continent as a whole. The idea of Africa being united and Africans getting their independence, just the thought alone scares those colonizers because what was supposed to be done will be done. They won’t have power over us. Working together in unity is what I believe in. Other countries are looking Eritrea flourishing and functioning without handouts. That is an inspiration to others. As of the youth, this is the time for them to pave a way to flourish. The resources in Eritrea for instance are abundant. We just have to know how to use it. So do a research, collaborate and work together. The peace that is in Eritrea itself is a resource. I can walk on the streets and the people are kind which is a good thing. They have never been here but they tell lies. They take it to the Internet and to respond for that, you get attacked on the Internet and they even threatened me with my life. However, I know how to fight. It’s in my blood after all.
Now let’s get back to your career. How are you moving on with your career?
I’m moving forward, upward and onwards (chuckles). My goal is to create millions of jobs and opportunities. God gave me the gift of being a comedian, being able to act and do all the things I do. I want
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to tell stories that mean something. Stories that inspire others and where we can see ourselves; example I saw Eritrean, Ethiopian and Somali movies. I see myself in them and those stories should be told to the world. So I’m doing things to make that happen. So just get ready because there is a lot coming.
Your latest movies were good enough to bring tears to our eyes. So how best can we inspire our youth to emulate your successes?
Well they simply need to tell their stories. Get your equipment, prepare your stories and tell your friends. With a cellphone, you can make a little movie as simple as that. Look, when I first started the movies I was making, they were all bad because I didn’t know what I was doing. However, I was trying. Dare to make mistakes. Dare to fail. When babies first know how to walk, they keep falling and falling until they know how to run. This is the same when you’re making any kind of entertainment for others. First, you have to believe in it, you have to want to share it and lastly you might not be the best but do your best. The more you do it the better you get at it. So try and try.
You had another experience so called “ngdet”. So how was it?
It was really good. We danced, we laughed, and we ate enjera, and had the traditional drink “swa”. I experienced another thing too. “Tish” with a smoke all over my body, honey and turmeric on my face and a butter called “lkay” on my fontanel was the newest experience. I loved it, the moment I took a shower, my skin was soft and a bit yellowish. I felt like I smoked for perfection. Finally, my message for the world is- visit Eritrea and have an experience here. When I first came here, people told me to bring my own toilet paper and water. That scared me for real but when I landed in Eritrea, it was a whole different story. So judge for yourselves instead of repeating that false information.