By Samson Negassi
Identity plays a very important role in one’s life. Who are you? Where do you come from? Going back to your roots and identifying yourself can put your life in perspective. Knowing your history can make you a very proud person.
Here in United Kingdom, there are people from different parts of the world. Europeans, Africans, West Indians, Asians, Americans and etc. They all have History, but how proud are they? How much do they know about their history?
The Eritrean struggle for freedom and the Eritrean history plays a very important role in my daily life. Enduring all the hardship and fighting against all the odds with discipline and a vision that seemed unthinkable to some and then not only making that vision a reality, but also preserving it with care is unique. When tomorrow seemed impossible, the miraculous Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front was planning for the year after next. When the going got tough, the tough got going. The tough got going, because there was a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Vision that was accompanied with action made the Eritrean freedom a reality.
Leading our daily lives can sometimes seem and feel difficult. Earning money to cover your daily expenses and perhaps go beyond by saving a bit of money every month. It can be tough and can seem too much. There are also those with children who have to provide at least the basic necessities such as, putting food on the table, shelter, clothing and etc. But if you have vision and instill that vision in your children then it becomes a reality. When children grow up knowing who they are, they grow up confident and they can always have their heads up. Shaebia’s (EPLF) secret for succeeding was, instilling the Eritrean vision in every Eritrean’s mind.
A little while ago I was talking about the current situation of the world with my two colleagues. One of them is English and the other white South African. I was talking about the negative influences the west has on Africa. The English colleague could not understand what I meant by “negative influences” as BBC and other western biased media blind him. The South African was furiously arguing with me saying, “how South Africa was better governed during the Apartheid era”. He was going on about Zimbabwe and how the country’s economy is crippled because the white farmers were kicked out the country. This colleague of mine believes only the whites can make a difference and that without their help, economy of any African nation can be crippled. This is one way of weakening one’s confidence.
I pointed out to him that there is a thing called self-reliance and that there is a country in Africa called Eritrea. I asked him how much he knew about Eritrea. Obviously he couldn’t careless about Eritrea, but I told him the mouth watering history and the brilliance of the Eritrean vision and leadership. He could not believe that, I was speaking with confidence about a tiny African country he had never heard before.
Yes I am confident because I have history, a history that makes one’s mouth water with envy. Yes I have confidence because the country that is mine is becoming exemplary not only in Africa but also in the whole wide world.
The English colleague interrupted and said, “but we did a lot to help Africans. How about Live Aid? Red-Nose day? We alerted the world about the hunger in Ethiopia. (He was talking about Michael Burks BBC Report in 1984). I asked him why Ethiopia is still hungry until now then? He looked at me and said, “well we cannot feed them everyday”. I said, “but you would rather cripple them by lending money they cannot afford to pay back and by arming them to invade their neighbors while they cannot feed themselves?” I also asked him if he knows Ethiopian Government spends millions of the aid every day feeding and arming the army and I also asked him that if he knew the Ethiopian government has refused the accept the final and binding EEBC (Eritrean Ethiopian Border commission) border ruling? He looked at me with stern and dazed look. BBC won’t broadcast crimes that are being committed by Ethiopia. The atrocities in Ogaden and massacre in Somalia, the illegal occupation of Eritreans lands. They would rather cover Amy Winehouse’s drug problems or Victoria Becham’s hairstyle.
My English colleague has it easy because his ancestors worked hard for him. He does not think about the stability of his country, but he is proud of his grandfather who was in Africa during the Second World War. He talks about it with passion. He believes “the west is superior” and he would argue furiously if you said otherwise. Perhaps his ancestors had a vision of making Britain one of the most powerful nations in the world. Then they did not want to entertain anyone or anything that opposes their vision. People were hanged for treason because they cooperated with the enemy (Germans). (The last man hanged in the UK for treason; William Joyce was the infamous ‘Lord Haw Haw’ – the voice of Nazi propaganda throughout the Second World War. From bases in Germany, Joyce’s transmissions were heard by up to 16 million people in the UK. His sinister broadcasts led to his indictment and execution for treason at the end of the war.)
The hypocrisy of the western superpowers is that, when poorer countries try to get out of poverty by being self-reliant, then the west would try to stop them by weakening the idea of self-reliance, by discounting it as impossible to sustain. They would finance major internal hostilities and demoralize the population and destabilize the economy.
Let’s look at Sierra Leone for example. It’s a country rich of natural resources but very unstable. Sierra Leone gained independence in 1961, opting for British parliamentary-style rule with a prime minister as head of state. When the country was free, there was no clear vision on how to govern it’s future. People of Sierra Leone were not conscious of outside conspiracies. They believed that Europeans are better. It was easier for the outside forces to come and divide them. There was violence after violence. Britain kept on sending “peace keeping soldiers” only to protect the Diamond mines. There were elections only to be marred by violence and coups. In 1999 the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) arrived to “make peace”, but the rebels called ‘Revolutionary United Front’ took members of the mission hostage and confiscated their arms and ammunition. The situation continued to deteriorate and violence resumed and the United Nations mission remains there until now. The biggest problem here is that people of Sierra Leon have no ownership of their future. Their fate is in the hands of outsiders.
Eritrea sits comfortably exposing these hypocrisies. Eritreans are owners of their future. We have a government that stands for Eritrea and the Eritrean Identity will be respected.
The Freedom was not donated to the people; it’s a hard fought miracle. Eritreans paid their best to earn their freedom. The western superpowers dismissed it as unrealistic. The Soviet’s Napalm bombs and the conspiracies of USA did not deter the struggle for liberation. Liberation from slavery, colonialism and exploitation.
“Those who declared death on Eritrea have died and Eritrea is still here and those who are declaring death on Eritrea will die and Eritrea will always be here.” Yemane Gebreab, 2000
Glory to the Eritrean Martyrs.