By Bereket Kidane,
ERITREA’s celebratory and commemorative month will soon be upon us. This year in 2015, the cities of Winnipeg, Manitoba and London, Ontario were the first ones out of the gate to book a venue and announce their Independence Day plans on the Dehai board. A big shout out to the proud Eritrean Community in those two Canadian cities.
As Eritrea prepares to celebrate its 24th Independence Day next month, its former detractors in the West led by the European Union have come to see the light. On their own initiative, they are now reversing their destructive policies toward the State of Eritrea and have come to recognize the righteousness of the policies of the Government of Eritrea.
While preparing to celebrate their country’s birthday, Eritreans at home and in the diaspora can take justified pride in their young state and its myriad accomplishments and successes.
Eritrea’s independence was earned and defended with a lot of blood, sweat and toil. The armed struggle for independence exacted a very high price in terms of the number of fallen, and Ethiopia’s (Weyane) invasion has only added to that.
Our martyrs’ sacrifice is the backbone on which Eritrean independence is formed. Therefore, independence has a special meaning in Eritrea. It can be argued that Eritrea is one of the most truly independent countries on earth. More independent than the developed and powerful ones. For instance, America owes China trillions of dollars in loans. Technically, China can bring the US economy down to its knees. Many English seaports are now under Arab ownership. No country has that kind of sway over Eritrea.
Several deadlines were given for the collapse of the Eritrean economy but it never came about. In fact, Weyane and the experts advising it thought that if they started a war under the pretext of a border dispute, expelled tens of thousands of Eritreans from Ethiopia and dumped them at Eritrea’s feet in order to pressure the Eritrean economy, stopped using Eritrea’s ports, then the pressure would be too great to overcome and the Eritrean economy would collapse within six months. That was seventeen years ago!!! Then they revised their estimate to a year. Then two years. Then five years. They kept waiting for Godot but it never came about because the national character of the Eritrean people wouldn’t allow it.
Eritreans too can take justified pride in their country’s favored bottom-up approach to development. It was recently reported that the much ballyhooed growth rate Ghana reportedly experienced in the 2000s and 2010s was nothing but a top-down mirage that has gone poof with the decline of commodity prices. Economic growth that doesn’t emphasize fulfilling basic social services and infrastructure as its foundational blocks has been proven to be meaningless and not long-lasting. Eritrea with its bottom-up approach to development is indeed on the right track to having sustainable development with strong foundational blocks.
As usual, this year in 2015, Eritrea’s national holiday season that starts with Independence Week in May and continues until Martyrs’ Day in June will be celebrated with lots of spirit and patriotism. Eritrean flags will be hung from city street lampposts and public buildings, as well as from many private homes and cars during these weeks. There will be lots of unabashed flag-waving, partying, dancing and carnivals at public celebrations held by most municipalities across the country.
In the diaspora, there will be lots of picnics, barbecues and outdoor festivities at various parks across the globe stretching from Australia to the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Americas. But nothing beats the nighttime festivities and rubbing shoulders with Independence Week revelers in Asmara.
Approaching its 24th birthday, Eritrea continues to show deep unity, the spiritual sense that we are “One people, One heart.” To an Eritrean, love of country has always meant never having to say it is sorry.
Zelealemawi Zikhri Nswuatna
Awet n Hafash!