Eritrea: Coming out of the Shadows
It is easier for this generation of African Americans to forget the legacy of
slavery, segregation and the hell their ancestors went through given the hectic
individual life they live in. However, it is impossible to forget because the
legacies are engrained into the daily life of all blacks regardless of age or
status. The physical, emotional, social and legal imprints are everywhere thus
impossible to miss. It is the same for every group, whether Armenian, Kosovars
or Palestinians that goes through difficult circumstances as societal unit. It
is also the same for Eritrea because those legacies live in every Eritrean.
Like the African Americans, Eritreans went through similar hardships in the hands
colonial powers and Fascist Italians for decades. When that passed new forms of
colonial legacies painted Eritreas history. For over a century, Eritrea faced
untold hardship due to wars, colonialism, segregation and aggressions that
threatened to wipe Eritrea from existence. Between 1981 until 1987, it seemed as
though the enemies have succeeded to achieving their absolute control of
Eritrea for the last time. At that moment in history, Eritrea arose from the
ashes, dusted off, and marched to never look back. In the years that followed,
Eritrea managed to wipe the enemies clear and started the history of
independent Eritrea afresh from 1991. Eritrea has thus far been though four
pinnacle stages of existence that the enemies said it cannot.
The first phase was that Eritrean revolutionary fighters were bandits. This was
propaganda, Ethiopia pushed to downplay the Eritrean movement. By 1975,
Ethiopia was forced to publicly negotiate with those that it called bandits in
the doorsteps of Asmara after thousands of Eritreans joined the revolutionary
struggle and after Eritreans achieved military victories against Ethiopia all
over the country.
The second stage covered the period between 1975 until 1987 when the struggle was
beset by civil wars and consistent attacks by Ethiopia in which the very
existence of the armed struggle was tested. At one time, the entire Eritrean
struggle was fortified in one area, Nakfa.
The third phase was the physical liberation of Eritrea. This covered periods from
1987 until 1993 when Eritreas struggle for independence was completed. During
this period, EPLF liberated Massawa and that led to the complete liberation of
Eritrea from the hands of Ethiopian soldiers. Soon after independence, Eritrea
conducted and completed successful referendum globally with over 98% voting for
independence. At that time the
prevailing belief was that Eritrea cannot achieve independence let alone
survive and able to run a country. Many predicted in few months Eritrea will
fail and return to Ethiopia.
The fourth phase is the current phase that marks the periods from 1993 until now.
During this period, Eritrea is tested in many ways and, the agenda of driving
Eritrea to chaos persists to date. The most obvious being the war with Ethiopia
in 1998-2000. The enemies hoped and expected, Eritrea to fail. They said Eritrea
is not viable and in six months, will fall into civil chaos from hunger and
To expedite it, they conspired, hatched schemes and created economic obstacles to
strangulate Eritrea. Ethiopia enlisted Yemen and Sudan to encircle and suffocate
Eritrea from existence. This period tested the will of the people and their
ability to persevere in many ways. This also is a period in which, sifting of
ideas and people took place within Eritrea. Those that harbored ill will were
exposed and in time, many of these behind-the-scene schemers were embarrassed
ala Dr. Bereket Habtesselassi and Haile Mekarious.
In this phase, Eritreans made quantifiable achievements in scope and magnitude.
This happened at a time of many adversities and difficulties. Eritreas
challenges were daunting and varied. Eritrea faced economic, diplomatic,
security and political… challenges that tested the will of the nation.
However, Eritrea lifted the clouds of darkness in layers to see light beyond
mere survival. This required, believing on each other, coordinated effort and
understanding between the people and the leadership about what is at stake to
challenge them head on.
The UNMEE was one challenge that Eritrea faced. In retrospect that was one
monumental achievement because, it was part of the plan designed to create
cracks. It was poison to a serene-proud-society and unspoiled environment. It
created uneasiness because of the filthy behaviors that UN peacekeepers
demonstrate everywhere. The process took its course and Eritrea used it as an
opportunity to, in one-hand welcome international process and, when it failed
to produce the desired outcome, to clear house and assert its position as
independent nation. It was rocky but successful nonetheless. This process meant
to bring peace and stability between the two nations turned out to be a tool to
undermine the sovereignty of Eritrea. Eritrea overcame that issue and all the
political entanglements that was part of the very process
In this period, Eritrea needed to recalibrate its approaches. The war had two
major impacts in the life of the nation, i.e. economic and security amongst
other priorities. Eritreas economy and way of life was interlinked to that of
Ethiopias in many ways. In addition, after war broke-out, Eritrea was forced
to divert valuable resources and human capacities into the war effort creating
a gap in the socioeconomic infrastructure that just started to take shape after
independence. Whatever gains Eritrea
made in her short independent life was taken away, due to the unexpected war
that took many lives and displaced millions adding another dimension to a major
challenge. That challenged the very
existence of Eritrea and it was a challenge enemies designed against Eritrea
assuming Eritrea cannot overcome.
In 2000, just as Eritrea was coming out from the war, General Sibhat Efrem came to
the US for official visit and conducted
interview with the Voice of Eritrea DC (VoE) and said, As a new nation Eritrea
will be tested militarily, economically, politically, diplomatically, socially
and in every conceivable way. Nations go through all types of hardships
internally as have the French during the French Revolution, the US during the
civil war and others. Nations that have not been tested will, at one time. And those
who face the challenges head on, nations that can withstand outside pressures
and, come out victorious, will enjoy their sovereign governance successfully.
But those who fail will not survive as nations.
General Sibhat then related it to Eritrean saying, Early on, Eritrea went through
various hardships due to religious, regional and political conflicts. During
the armed struggle, the war between EPLF and TPLF took the life of thousands of
Eritreans. And further noted, In
Africa, most nations were handed their freedom while, Eritrea had to earn
freedom with blood, guts and hard work. Eritrea was tested and we will be in
the future. And if we fail in any turn we cannot be viable as a nation.That
is a mindset and that is what makes Eritrea a NATION and will remain as
Eritrea had four things going for it: Experienced leadership; a dedicated, experienced,
educated and selfless population willing to die for Eritrea; manageably sized
nation; and flexibility. These four ingredients helped Eritrea to reel from a
devastating, difficult and dangerous period.
The nation focused on food security; realigned its diplomatic approach within the
region and globally; strengthened its security and started to make headways in
its social and physical infrastructure reconstruction. Eritreans quickly
returned to a familiar mindset and hankered with the understanding that all
these developments to be a continuation of the armed struggle. In a sense, the
war heightened the focus on the nation and helped tighten the unity.
It is rewarding to remember the challenges Eritrea faced and how it is overcoming
them. It also speaks volumes of leaders with foresight that forewarned the
world about Western intention and designs to create conflicts and manage them.
Eritrea was amongst the first targets of the West before the Arab Spring. With
the help of the Weyane regime, they tried to isolate specific ethnic groups
into uprisings. Ethiopia enlisted some failed ex-ELF and flew them from Sweden
to lead Eritrea. We also witnessed some ex-ELF driven into the US State
Department anointed as the future leaders of Eritrea. It all failed because
Eritreans knew what they have and chose not to give it up. Eritrea was not
handed to them; a ballot box did not gain Eritrea; Eritrea exists because of
those that paid the price and those six feet under in every part of the nation.
Eritrea rebuffed every attempt and shined. In fact, Eritrea benefited from all the
wicked attempts thrown at her. The PR, the demonizing campaign, misinformation
and disinformation negative campaigns as well as the deliberate attempt to
alter the history of the brave nation, failed.
To the contrary, it put Eritrea on the global map faster. It killed the
very agendas they were pushing forward. Eritrea came out from shadows of
colonial legacies and now, the world knows Eritrea as a gritty nation that
pursues prudent self-reliance programs religiously. Of course, to them it is
something new but to Eritrea, it is not a choice it is a matter of survival.
Thats how Eritrea came to life and how it will thrive.
Eritreas achievements are visible and life altering to agrarian communities that live in
villages and small towns all over the country. On 21 February 2012, Eri.TV
showed newly completed potable water
project in Digsa, Segeneiti sub-zone. What caught my attention was how the
people viewed this new achievement. Tirhas said, Thank God, we are doing fine.
We used to travel 5 kilometers for services and to fetch for water. Now we have
barrels in our doorsteps.
Mr. Ghebremichael said, We have electricity, potable water, a hospital and schools
thanks to the government of Eritrea. We used to travel 5-10 kilometers but we
have all that we need here and it is up to us to safeguard and maintain
them. This is not something new, this was
EPLF is stand during the armed struggle and this is a continuation of what it
started during the struggle to equalize the standard of living throughout.
This is as basic as it gets. On the other hand, Eritrea had to meet some of the
major and comprehensive infrastructural needs of the country without resources
and amidst a hostile environment in order to position Eritrea for the future.
That is a tall order and balancing act. Eritrea met these challenges head on in
a stealthy manner by exercising her advantages such as flexibility, mobility
and the dedicated human resources to build the basic infrastructural needs. It
was relatively seamless process because Eritrea is a nation with a history of
organizing the masses into specific national goals. The people bought into it
because of the awareness instilled in them during the struggle. Eritreans are
confident and know they can overcome as they have during the struggle.
By hankering down, Eritrea positioned herself into the current stage where it is
beginning to extract her wealth. The people of the world have noticed and
Eritrea has arrived. Countries are sending their representatives not to fill-in
diplomatic spaces but to do business; understanding Eritreas strategic
importance and confident, that Eritrea is a nation they can depend on. Favorable
climate, hospitable people, crime-free environment and incredible topography
are other factors attracting world attention.
Throughout Africa, most of the nations are powder cakes. A little push they crumble. We
saw it in Ivory Coast and in nation after nation where countries are crumbling
and loosing sovereignty. Their wealth and resources exploited and the people
going from one Western puppet to another in the name of democracy while in
abject poverty. This is because, they lack connection, and a history of
collective struggle between the people and those who claim to lead these
The people of Eritrea offer a new and decisive departure for the norm. They provide
alternatives, in a continent that long searched for model governance
approaches. Eritreans did it by a motto that said, The masses need to be
aware, organize and arm. This motto
relies on Eritreas own recipe for success, Self Reliance! exercised in all
aspects of life. For example, Eritrea does not depend on foreign tourist alone
to expand the tourism industry because it can on Eritreans in the Diaspora to
fill the gap. That bought time and gave it stability the industry needs. It is
also a blessing and answer to the prayers of our fathers and mothers that worshiped
faithfully in the name of the Almighty. That is what saves Eritrea from the
peonage of Western criminals.
Eritreans stories are not told to the world because the daily issues tend to overwhelm
the life of Eritrean. The stories are
plentiful and colorful that the world needs to hear and read about. They are
the stories of the human spirit. And only Eritreans can tell it because if they
don’t the enemies will define it. Nakfa was one example that the world needs to
hear and know about. It is history of war, grit, brilliance and sheer
determination the world has not heard because it happened in Africa by
Africans. It is a story of a victorious moment that changed the tide in a
nations history. Conversely, it is legacy Eritreans cannot and will not overlook.
While that is a physical reminder, the emotional scars live in all of us. This
is a moment in history to expose it without being caught in the daily dilemmas
they try to embroil us in.