BY BEREKET KIDANE
A friend of mine who’s always had a tendency to see the glass as half-empty recently came back from his two-week trip to Eritrea and phoned me to catch-up once he got back to the states. One of the first things he said to me was, “There was no shortage of water or electricity during my stay in Eritrea. Shaebia’s method is working.”
Other acquaintances and friends who recently visited Eritrea have also expressed similar sentiments to me.
As Eritrea turns 27, it has undoubtedly kicked into higher gear with its sustainable development efforts. In particular, its continuous water supply, renewable sources of power generation and food security efforts are making a real difference in its citizenry’s lives.
It’s worth noting that two and half decades after its dejure establishment, Eritrea is still a young country, especially when compared to the U.S. and other developed Western nations.
Though repeatedly targeted by its detractors seeking to undermine its sovereignty, the State of Eritrea has remained resilient and persevered, doggedly pursuing its nation-building priorities while calling on the misguided international community to lift the illegal and unjust sanctions meant to isolate the country and cripple its economy.
The oases that have sprung up all over the lowlands of Eritrea and made the livelihood of its previously nomadic citizens a little more secure are a testament to the fact that Eritrea is succeeding in reversing environmental degradation and improving the well-being of its citizens.
The luscious and abundant fruit and vegetable stands of the provincial capitals in the six zobas overflowing with papayas, mangoes, watermelons, guavas and vegetables that are high in protein and fiber are further proof that Eritrea has made some real forward progress in its food security efforts and agricultural export capacity.
In the next few years, for instance, Eritrea is expected to be one of the leading producers of date palms in Africa and the Middle East. How’s that for cash crop?
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Since its founding twenty seven years ago, the State of Eritrea has obsessively pursued food security as its top priority. Nations often take on the personality of their founding fathers. In Eritrea’s case, as its fearless leader and founding father, Isaias Afewerki, once remarked:
“If you have to beg for food, you will always be on your knees and will never be able to look your counterparts in the eye.”
That statement sums up, in a nutshell, the State of Eritrea’s obsession with food security and avoiding the curse of becoming a beggar nation that is only sovereign on paper.
In recent years, Eritrea has transitioned from a country that is security-obsessed to one that is obsessed with sustainable development. This shift has marked a defining moment in Eritrea’s growth and maturity.
To be sure, Eritrea still faces security challenges but its security threats have become manageable thanks to its universal military training and the forward-looking strategic approach it has taken to collective regional security with its Gulf and Arab allies.
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Eritrea’s sovereignty was achieved with blood, sweat, and toil of its sons and daughters. Independence was not handed to Eritrea on a silver platter as it was to the other African countries when the colonial powers packed-up and left. Eritreans had to bleed and sacrifice for it, waging an epic thirty-year revolutionary war.
Therefore, chief among Eritrea’s core values is the ability to be truly sovereign, proud and independent while fiercely protecting the territorial integrity of the country.
Since the calendar is about to turn to May, that means only one thing if you are an Eritrean: Eritrea’s celebratory and commemorative month will soon be upon us. So start planning your Independence Day programs to celebrate Eritrea’s 27th birthday in grand style.
Zelealemawi Zikhri n Swuatna!
Awet n Hafash!