The Father, the Son and Göran is a story about Sweden and Eritrea.
About being a son and about being a father. About life and death and then life again.
About Dawit Isaak.
About fighting for your life in the desert and on the ocean, arriving in Sweden and being deported.
About colonialism, politics and Swedish foreign aid.
About civil war in Africa and burning cars in Stockholm.
About parallel worlds that are linked together.
This is the story of how one man and what happened one night in Eritrea almost thirty-five years ago have affected people around the world ever since.
The photojournalist Göran Assbring was 33 years old when he left his wife and his three small children behind in their terraced house in Akalla, Stockholm, to return to Eritrea in order to follow the Eritrean Liberation Front in their struggle for independence from Ethiopia.
It was to be his last tour. Göran was shot and killed in an ambush in October 1983.
Back in Akalla, his wife, newly born twin daughters and their eight-year-old son Kalle were waiting in vain.
Kalle made it through his teens, growing up in the suburb without his father and with a mental picture of the country in which his father had disappeared. He was in his twenties when he travelled to Eritrea for the first time in order to see the country with his own eyes and to find closure. His journey was the beginning of a new story.
Göran was not just anybody. When Eritrea’s home secretary heard that Kalle Assbring was in the country he arranged a meeting. Kalle’s father was a martyr, a hero who had died in the struggle for an independent Eritrea.
Back in Sweden, a letter arrived from the Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak who was sending Kalle a photo of his family, informing him that he had christened his son Yoran (the Eritrean version of Göran) in his memory.
Kalle encounters more children who have been given his father’s name, both in Eritrea and in Europe. Göran Assbring’s documentation of the struggle for independence had formed strands in a network that continued to affect people’s lives. In Fadern, sonen och Göran events have effects that reach all the way to Sweden. Eritrean domestic affairs have an impact on the lives of many Eritreans in exile, families are torn when it comes to the President, the former EPLF warrior Esaias Afewerki. One night in the winter of 2012, the political friction manifests itself as several Eritrean assembly rooms are ravaged by fire. The past continues into the future.
Kalle Assbring (1975-2017) was from Stockholm. He attended Nordens Fotoskola, Biskops Arnö, and worked as a freelance photographer with a large customer base at the same time as he was working on his own long-term projects. Outernational – A Story about Trinity Sound System was published by Dokument Press in 2007. The very personal account Fadern, sonen och Göran was his last book with Dokument Press before he tragically passed away in 2017.