Eritrea @26: WaveYour Flag!
By Bereket Kidane
On May 24, that miracle land kicking its leg into thesouthern Red Sea, burdened with decades of injustice and unremitting hostility fromthe big powers on its very sovereignty celebrates her 26th year ofindependence.
In 2017, Eritrea stands alone as an oasis of peace andtranquility in the Horn of Africa and the southern Red Sea — a region plaguedby crises, instability, ethnic uprisings and state of emergencies.
Eritrea continues to be an oasis of peace and harmonylargely owing to its national character but also in part because it has ignoredthe advice of the West. It continues toput its head down and diligently work on implementing its long-term visionwhile shunning crippling and dependency-creating Western aid. Since it achieved independence in 1991,Eritrea has been tested by fire and proved its mettle. The journey it has taken as a young nationhas been one that exhibits the resilience and determination of its people.
Eritrea’s independence was earned through blood, sweat,toil and heroism unknown to mankind. Ittook a lot of guts, strength, unity, perseverance and brilliant moments on thebattlefield for the Eritrean people to defeat a numerically superior enemybacked by two superpowers and achieve independence. Therefore, no other country’s independenceday is more powerful than Eritrea’s.
For me, Eritrea is a miracle land. Some call it “Halal Meret.” Others call it “The Land of Warsay and Yikealo.” Yes, it is all those things and more. Being a tegadalay during the armed strugglefor independence meant that you were someone who believes in the impossiblebeing possible, someone who never gives up, someone who willingly sacrificeshimself on the battlefield to spare his fellow combatants, someone who overcamegreat odds and believed in the eventual triumph of “Awet n Hafash.” With all due respect to other countries,there is no country on this planet whose Independence Day celebrations are aspowerful as Eritrea’s. None – no one canor will ever make me change my mind on that.
But Eritrea is not just a country. It is a sacred trust received from ourmartyrs. It’s one big heart thatembodies the indomitable spirit of its brave people. One people, one heart!
Despite all the challenges, existential threats andbullying by the big powers it has faced in its 26 years as an independentnation, Eritrea has never been doing as well or been in a better place as it isin 2017. Lots of exciting things arehappening in Eritrea in the fields of geothermal energy, solar powered dripirrigation, health services, educational capacity building and waterconservation. Already, some institutionsand government ministries are being powered by solar renewable energy. The availability of 24/7 electricity wastweeted by some excited Asmarinos recently giving us a glimpse of what’spossible in the future. A network of water dams and artificial lakesare being built to increase water supply and beautify the landscape.
If 60 is the new 40, then 26 must be the new 16? The point is, nation building is aninfinitely complex process and Eritrea as a young nation is doing a good job ofit with an eye toward making life for future generations comfortable. As a lifelong and proud Eritrean, I know thatEritrea always emerges triumphant in the end. Always, always, always! I haveseen it time and time again.
Approaching its 26th birthday, Eritreacontinues to fill us all with justifiable pride and admiration. It’s our pride and joy because so many of itsfinest sons and daughters were sacrificed to make it a reality. As the national holiday season is set tobegin soon in earnest, Eritrean communities around the world have startedmaking preparations to celebrate Eritrea’s 26th birthday in grandstyle.
This year in 2017, the Eritrean Community of theDallas-Fort Worth (DFW) metropolitan area became the first one out of the gateto announce its Independence Day preparations and rehearsals on the Dehai board. A big shout out to the patriotic DFW Eritrean Community and theirnational holidays organizing committee and youth group known as “HidriDallas.” Hidri Dallas’s motto is,“Building a strong, patriotic and conscious youth.” Kudos to that. Right back atcha! Having seen past footage of DFW EritreanCommunity’s Independence Day celebrations, I know that they always make schoolchildren the focus of their programs. Thisis to be commended because today’s school children are tomorrow’s YPFDJ members and leaders of Eritreancommunities in the diaspora. It’s allabout passing it onto the next generation.
One of the best Independence Day songs performed by aforeign musical band for Eritrea’s birthday was the epic Arabic love songballad “Rita” by a Sudanese band for Eritrea’s 23rd birthday. The Sudanese band substituted “Rita” with“Eritra” and significantly modified the song for an Eritrean audience addingreferences to Eritrea’s martyrs “shaheed” and such. Interestingly, the original poem for thatepic song was composed by the renowned Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, whowrote it for a Jewish girl named Rita that he fell in love with. It was later set to music by the Lebanesesinger, Marcel Khalife.
The brotherly people of Sudanhave always graced us with their musical talents on Eritrea’s Independence Day,but this year in 2017, given that Egyptian-Eritrean relations are at theirall-time high why not invite an Egyptian band to perform in Asmara forEritrea’s Independence Day celebrations? Perhaps the National HolidaysOrganizing Committee can reach out to the Egyptian Embassy and ask them if theycan send a band? It would certainlyenhance the people-to-people relations as Egypt is asserting itself byprojecting power in the southern Red Sea region and has become an importantally of the State of Eritrea.
As usual, this year in 2017,Eritrea’s national holidays (Independence Day, Martrys’ Day, Revolution Day onSeptember 1st, and all the other commemoration days) will becelebrated with lots of spirit and patriotism at home and in the diaspora bythe more than 6 million Eritreans worldwide. The celebration of our national holidays and heroes is an important partof who we are as a people. It’s thattime of year once again so start planning your Independence Day programs tocelebrate Eritrea’s 26th birthday in grand style.
One people, One heart!Zelealemawi zikhri n swuatna!Awet n Hafash!