The patience and perseverance of Eritreans
By Simon weldemichael
Bronwyn Bruton (2016), in her article ‘Eritrea: Coming In from the Cold’, has tried to explain the conduct of Eritreans in the following words: “Eritreans across the world, whether or not they support the government, demonstrate a strong sense of national identity and display pride in their country.” Every Eritrean has unwavering support for and confidence in the government. The power of their faith in the government enables them to wait with patience. Overtime Eritreans have developed a common attitude of “There is more to life than moving fast.”
“The government will do everything at the right time” attitude of Eritreans gives leverage to the government to function in the face of economic hardship, under the long sustained unjust sanction, demonization campaign and military challenges. Patience as a virtue has been shared by the people and the leadership of Eritrea. Eritreans are tied together by the chain of circles of patience, perseverance, confidence and faith. Usually faith and patience reinforce one another. Patience is necessary to undergird faith and faith in return gives substance to the things we hope for. When our enemies attacked our faith, patience comes to the aid of faith. The propaganda aimed at divorcing the people from the leadership have been consumed in vain because of the faith and patience of Eritrean people. Up until the present no propaganda tool was devised to penetrate the shell of faith and patience of Eritreans. The government has to reinforce this impenetrable and imperceptible shell through ideological and practical brace. The conduct and relations of the leadership and the people of Eritrea have been governed by patience and faith. National faith is tested among many things through a life of obedience to national duties. National faith of Eritreans is demonstrated by a complete confidence in the goodness of the nation. Faith gives us confidence and competence to see the unseen.
The faith of Eritreans is demonstrated by the unswerving support to their government, astonishing unity and submission to the will of the nation. The “There is nothing impossible” mindset of Eritreans is grounded in faith and confidence. Likewise the patience of Eritreans is displayed by the willingness to sacrifice immediate benefits for future benefits. National faith is at the beginning of the road to national pride and national unity. In the past Eritreans survived in the face of the adversity because of our unity, trust in the leadership and persevering hope of a better future. Our faith, patience and perseverance have given strength and protection from defeat and invasion. National faith by all means is a source of power. The miraculous historical achievements of Eritrea before and after independence have been accomplished by the power of faith. The Eritrean power that undermined the intervention and collusion of superpowers was generated neither from military arsenal nor from economic potential but from devotion. Faith gives Eritreans perseverance, might and courage.
Patience has been described as a virtue by experts of various fields. When we come to political life, patience is a political virtue of all times. History provides many stories of patient citizens that made success stories and achieved their desires. There is a direct relationship between patience and positive outcomes. One of the greatest vices of governments is the propensity to gratify short-term desires at the expense of long-term interests. Societies that have gained the necessary patience and perseverance are destined to prosper and societies that lack patience and perseverance are destined to disappear. Citizens who are patient and willing to bear the immediate costs for future benefits survive. In contrast, impatient citizens who are interested in the immediate rewards at the cost of future benefits perish.
One of the underlined factors that prevented African and other developing societies from realizing their dream was lack of vision and patience. They are suffering from lack of critical mass of patient citizens and courageous leadership. Governments’ preference to deal with immediate rewards and citizens’ hastiness to reap benefits are among the vices that hindered many developing societies from creating the future that they preferred. Eritreans are among the patient citizens in the world that have constantly demonstrated their readiness to submit immediate gratification for future rewards. Collectively, Eritreans are more likely to exhibit delayed gratification behaviors.
Information age gives the present generation an immense new power. But this age of instant information also impairs the virtue of patience in the people. As a result, the majority of the people are now looking and running after the mirage of immediate interests. Societies across the world are losing patience and the capability to wait. Patience does not mean opening room for procrastination or unreasonable delay; it is waiting for the right time. Anything done prematurely leads to a road to destruction. The people and leadership of Eritrea have avoided many difficulties by being patient. The government should therefore give special attention, care and protection to the fountain of hope and patience of the country. Leadership is leading people, and getting them to see what they need to see. During the critical hours of our struggle for liberation and TPLF’s aggression, the People’s Front has taught the Eritrean people how and when to get the desired outcome. We come to know that change is a process that requires patience. Patience is not procrastination or delaying obligation but it is being able to discern the right time to act. We learn from our history to detect the right moment to act. Dealing with problems prematurely is a waste of time and energy.
It has been said that thoughts produce actions, actions become habits and habits form character. The thoughts behind the actions of Eritrea and the continuous actions that become the habits that constitute the national character of Eritrea are summarized in patience, perseverance and confidence. The destiny of Eritrea is, thus, only determined by that character. In the past, the perseverance of Eritreans excelled over the power of our enemies. This solid national quality can also be viewed as indicative of future achievements. Perseverance as a value is appreciated more than talent in managing difficult situations. Talent without perseverance and patience is like moving fast without knowing which direction you are going. The various impediments on our road might have slowed our journey but we have not lost our direction. The clarity of direction and patience are the powerful engines that help the Eritrean ship to cross the turbulent sea of accusation and defamation.
Perseverance, along with patience, is one of the qualities that contributed to the invincibility of Eritreans. The ‘never-give-up’ attitude of Eritreans applied over and over is one manifestation of a strong measure of patience. The government has to intensify its consciousness raising campaign to keep the people dignified and self-controlled. Eritrea is a country of few words. Although our silence has usually risen above the roaring of defectors and enemies, it is imperative to clear the dust of disinformation by the breezes of truth.
The patience, perseverance and confidence of Eritreans are exceptional in many respects and are reliable assets of victory. We should continue to be purposeful and steadfast and stay committed and faithful to our ideals. The courage of the leadership to take appropriate measures combined with the patience of citizens to accept and adopt the new arrangements is expected to create a miraculous story once again. After long struggle and sacrifice, Eritreans have now reached the point to create the future that they prefer.