The Evolution of Peace Continues in East Africa
by Simon Weldemichael
History tells us that the early ancestors of humans first appeared in East Africa about 2.5 million years ago.
About 2 million years ago, some of these archaic men and women left their homeland to journey through and settle vast areas of planet Earth. Scientists also agree that about 70,000 years ago, Sapiens from East Africa spread into the Arabian peninsula, and from there they quickly overran the rest of the world. In 2018, thousands of years after these historic processes, East Africa was once again the scene of significant events that changed the political direction of our planet. The evolution of peace showed a great leap forward and quickly spread around the continent Africa and the world. The governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia demonstrated great intelligence, bravery, and strength to restore peace to the long troubled region. The Horn of Africa, which is the origin of humanity, has now become the epicenter of peace and stability. Hopefully, this will spread to the rest of the continent and the world.
Even though Eritrea is a young country, its people are the proprietors of ancient civilizations. Science and history attest to the fact that the region that Eritrea is located in is likely to be the origin of humanity. Among the oldest human skeletons was found in Buia, Northern Red Sea. It is now preserved in the National Museum of Eritrea. Eritrea, a land of ancient civilizations, had a written legal code over 551 years ago. The country’s revolution, occurring over thirty years (1961 to 1991) also shows that it is a land of transformation. Today, it has become an epicenter of peace and cooperation in East Africa. The internal stability that Eritrea has enjoyed for so long may potentially also come to characterize other parts of the long troubled Horn of Africa region.
We refer to and study history not to make predictions about the future or to hold time with the bridle of the past, but to widen our horizons and to understand the present. An objective analysis of the present condition of East Africa may make for depressing reading. Despite the natural and human resources of the region, the people are still burdened by unacceptably high levels of poverty, illiteracy, and poor health. In this region of plenty, what has long been lacking has been cooperation. If we cooperate, there is no limit to our region’s potential progress a n d success.
The struggle between good and bad eventually eliminates all that is not useful for collective progress and selects all that is beneficial to the survival and development of the people of the region. In the socio-political evolutionary process, peace is the surviving trait selected by the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Anyone who attempts to change the direction of this natural process or to resist and fight against it will be faced with their own destruction. The only way to be fully liberated from the previous condition of suffering is to be liberated from a servile mentality. In order for peace to be sustainable, the people and leaders of the region need to train their mind to experience reality as it is. Fortunately, the people of the region don’t need to look far and wide. Eritrea offers some useful lessons. The leadership in Eritrea is responsive to the demands of its people and it is responsible for the development and protection of the country. Of course, I am also fully cognizant and aware of its various challenges and needs for improvement. Although the government has areas to improve – like all governments around the world – and despite the various external threats it has faced, it has made great efforts and progress to move the nation forward and improve the lives of its people.
Peace is more likely and sustainable if states function well and serve their citizens. States, in turn, are more likely to effectively provide public goods to their citizens if they operate under conditions of peace. Now, thanks largely to the perseverance of Eritrea and the struggle of the people in Ethiopia, the region has expelled the warmongers from amongst its midst. Over the past several months, we have witnessed the unfolding of momentous events that will hopefully put an end the years of conflict and rivalry. We, the current generation, are at least in part the legacy of the past century of hostility. However, we now have an excellent opportunity to put the past behind us and move forward in peace, cooperation, and friendship.
We were confronted by an unholy alliance following the unnecessary 1 9 9 8 military invasion by the TPLF. The aim was to encircle and suffocate Eritrea. Alliances are not a new creation. Throughout history, alliances have often been formed to counter aggressors. For example, during WW-II, several European nations formed an alliance to counter Nazi Germany. However, the alliance formed during and after the 1998-2000 military invasion of Eritrea was to strangulate the victim. At that time, Sudan and Yemen allied themselves with the TPLF.
The incessant wars against Eritrea and Somalia, as well as the politics of ethnicity in Ethiopia brought sweeping changes to the latter. We have also all been witness to the events that have unfolded in recent times in Sudan and Yemen. There is a Tigrigna proverb that says, “wehale hawi qoray”, which roughly translates to, “the one who is dexterous at making fire has no hands.”
During the past several months, East Africa has experienced momentous developments. Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to work toward peace and reconciliation. This has had a positive spillover effect on the rest of the region. Just like how Galileo, Columbus, Darwin, and Newton revolutionized their fields and made significant contributions, the leaderships in Eritrea and Ethiopia have revolutionized and contributed greatly to the region. The center of gravity in the Horn of Africa has changed and many more radical and positive changes seem to be in store. Of course, change is not always welcomed by everyone. For some, it is a like a bitter pill that must be swallowed with difficulty.
East Africa is a large family. The countries and the people share many commonalities. Above all, they crave peace, progress, and justice. They are all in the process of nation-building. The people share similar hopes, dreams, and fears. Of course, as we welcome and cheer for peace, we recognize that it can often be difficult to maintain and requires more than just a peace treaty. It requires a permanent end to hostilities and close attention to causes of conflict. Peace-building is designed to prevent the eruption of or return to conflict. In order for peace to be sustainable there must be little to no difference between actors regarding its conceptualization and operationalization. We need to continue on the path of demarcation, economic integration, and cooperation in various fields to strengthen and solidify peace. We have to eliminate the root causes of conflict in our region. If we are able to manage the changes at hand, East Africa, long associated with the origins of human evolution, could be recognized as home to socio-political evolution.