By Sesin Seyoum,
Number one priority in life is existence and to exist; one has to survive by coping with all the ups, downs, danger and hardship life brings. Existence is above everything as it’s when we exist have being and we can live. Human beings are equipped with wisdom, patience and internal strength to survive as well as continue to exist; but they have to be able to unlock those resources. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years carry with them different kinds of circumstances while humans equally create methods and approaches to help them deal with any eventualities – some successfully and others maybe unsuccessfully. We read situations differently and we can sometimes be swayed by sudden and changing situations. But it’s our internal strength that can help us convert situations to our advantage.
Twenty five years ago this month on Friday May 24, 1991, the existence of Eritrean people was assured to the amazement of many who completely dismissed Eritrea as a sovereign nation. The people of Eritrea had to deal with unimaginable adversities which tempted their very existence.
Colonized by Africans, Middle Easterners, Europeans and they were then federated under Ethiopia to later be annexed forcefully and illegally. That injustice brought the longest independence struggle in Africa but was ignored by the international community. Not only was it ignored, but also deliberately engulfed by superpower countries including USA and Russia for their own geopolitical interests.
While Eritreans were being brutally bombarded by the “internationally forbidden” napalm bombs, while Eritrean youth were being massacred in cities and villages, while villages were burnt down to ashes, while people were indiscriminately murdered with bullets and bombs; the international community including the United Nations completely ignored the brutal atrocities.
The people did not buckle under immense injustices and traumatic atrocities; to the contrary, they unlocked their internal strengths and confronted the wickedness of colonialism head-on. They stubbornly fought back for their existence and became more vigorous. They fought against Soviet backed and armed strong Ethiopian military government that was continuously shelling the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front positions and heroically defended their positions.
Colonial forces hit back by committing genocide in Eritrean villages such as Ona, Wekiduba and later on Sheeb. This was meant to quash, eliminate the people’s support, kill moral and confidence and eventually to erase the existence of Eritrea as a nation. Eritrean Peoples’ Liberation Front (EPLF) responded strategically by withdrawing to Northern Sahel which was a strong base. This not only minimized civilian and military casualties but also allowed the front to cleanse it’s political movement in the Eritrean battle fields. There were several factors that had to be straightened. Colonialists had other plan of weakening Eritrean strong spirit and that was by creating division amongst them. There were other liberation movements that were unfortunately compromised and infiltrated by the enemy. This became one of the obstacles that delayed Eritrean Peoples’ Liberation Front from carrying out it’s mission of eliminating colonialism and assuring the existence of Eritrea quicker.
For the sake of existence, unimaginable sacrifices were paid. What makes the Eritrean liberation struggle perhaps unique in this world is that, it formed a government well before the complete independence and was already transforming the lives of Eritrean citizens in liberated areas. It had a clear vision of the coming Eritrea. A politically and physically independent nation which will not follow the stigma of waiting for handouts that is attached to Africa. A self-reliant nation that builds herself not by waiting for others to stretch hands but by working in partnership for mutual benefits. Many, including the so called superpowers, dismissed this ideology as unachievable and unsustainable. Many waited for the “collapse” of this nation. Yet this nation not only continued to exist, but also continued to inspire many others. Cultural, ideological, military and social attacks were thrown at Eritrea and they all came in different shapes and forms. But the strength and deep-rooted beliefs of existence by the people fended off all the attacks and Eritrea is now celebrating 25 years of independent existence as a sovereign nation. Many are now interested in listening to Eritrea and many are flocking to this unique nation.
The secret of Eritrea’s existence holds four strong pillars. They are courage, determination, perseverance and readiness for sacrifice. Many revolutionary movements in this world have failed and collapsed as they didn’t hold these qualities. They were easily infiltrated and were eliminated as a result. Many African movements against exploitation of African resource were cut short. Movements by Thomas Sankara, Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba are few to mention. What made Eritreans conscious and perhaps stronger is that, during the 30 years independence struggle, EPLF (now Eritrean Leadership) instilled a culture of comradery and a strong bond which was created by a shared goal of independence. Eritreans don’t have to be best friends to know they have the support of each other. This tight knit culture fends off evil intentions by any outsider.
Eritreans are deservedly celebrating their independent existence. When turbulent circumstances shook them, they stood strong, persevered and continued to exist.
Congratulations to the people of Eritrea!
Eternal glory and remembrance to those who sacrificed their livelihood for the existence, betterment and safety of Eritrea.
Always Awet N’Hafash! Victory to the Masses!