By Fikrejesus Amahazion,
Why is September 1st such an important day for Eritrea? It represents the day that the Eritrean independence movement transitioned from non-violence and protest, to active, armed resistance – going against all odds and logic. It is a day to reflect upon and remember the contributions and heroic exploits of the thousands of freedom fighters – those mythical, legendary men and women who spent over 30 years in the barren, dusty deserts and harsh mountains of Eritrea, persevering and ultimately delivering freedom against all odds.
Of all the independence movements throughout Africa in the 1900s, only two emerged “victorious” militarily, Zimbabwe and Eritrea. And of those two, only Eritrea was able to do so via an outright military destruction of the colonial oppressor (rather than a negotiated settlement, a la the Lancaster Agreements).
Furthermore, not only was Eritrea’s struggle the longest African independence war of the 1900s, the three decades long struggle targeted far more than just political emancipation. Rather, it sought to usher in a complete and radical transformation of society, destroying all outdated, harmful, traditional structures within society.
Today, although a large number of African states have been “politically” independent for decades, many are still mired in economic dependency and shackled by the oppressive chains of neocolonialism.
Even with an abundance of precious natural resources, the African continent has remained poor and continues to suffer from the many blights of underdevelopment. Across the continent, resources, which could promote development, have instead fueled conflict and bred vast inequalities, while foreign exploitation has sustained debilitating poverty.
In stark contrast however, Eritrea has maintained control of its considerable resource endowments, firmly grasped the reins to its national and economic development, and is navigating a pragmatic path towards true national emancipation and a tangible improvement in the lives of its people.