President Isaias Afwerki is us, and We are Isaias Afwerki  

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10/10/2011

Amanuel Biedemariam

There is a Facebook group, which I belong to, called ” We Are All Isaias Afwerki.” From the start, there were discussions about why we are all Isaias Afwerki, and the answers were all the same worded differently. We are because he is the embodiment of what Eritrea is all about. We are because he is and has been the face of Eritrea’s past, present and has set a precedent for the future.

We are because he is what Eritrea is all about; grit, determination, perseverance, committed finisher. We are because he is like everyone, humble and determined to leave within his means while focusing on the future, sacrificing a great deal. We are because of his commitment to honor the martyrs by building a nation worthy of their sacrifices and, the list could go on…

One of the most critical foundations of life is thankfulness to God/Allah for the small blessing. It is only then that the benefits multiply and multiply. It is, therefore, a blessing in itself to recognize those small blessings.

Many of the disadvantages Eritrea faced throughout history turned out to be a blessing in disguise. When the former colonizers handed African countries “independence,” they denied Eritrea its independence. However, it turned out to be a blessing because it gave Eritrea the time to see the colonizers’ entrapments for Africa in plain daylight and learn from it.

There is a saying in Tigrigniya, “let Him give you an example rather than you become  one.” Eritrea was lucky to have had plenty of examples of how not to be.

However, Eritrea needed direction on how to be different and not repeat the failures of others that regressed precipitously due to corruption, with few on the top sucking the marrow from the people and ruining their countries.

Hence, the struggle for independence was a blessing because it became a struggle for freedom not only from the chains of colonialism but also from the mental slavery that the west placed upon Africans.

It allowed Eritrea a space to deal with the political upheavals it faced during the first half of the struggle that could have undone the revolution. The ethnic, religious, and regional divisions the Eritrean revolution inherited were paralyzing.

Eventually, these divisions and differences led to a civil war that lasted for years, frustrating many who wanted to see Eritrea focus on the enemies and triggering a massive exodus of Eritrean youth.

When you look back at the struggle, Eritrea had no organizational structures, resources, and support to start the revolution. There was no standing organized army. The tasks at hand seemed impossible or insurmountable. All the odds were stacked against Eritrea. The possibility that Eritrea could eject Ethiopia, a country backed by the US, Israel , and the USSR, was almost unthinkable. Ethiopia received military, political, financial, diplomatic, and all kinds of assistance, while Eritrea had none.

Eritrea had determined people who wanted independence, peace, and life-based on a higher standard. Eritrea had people willing to work hard and sacrifice. They were ready to pay all they had for freedom. These are people who were willing to endure the rigors, hardships, and pain for victory.

They wanted to chart their path in uncharted territories. Figuratively speaking, they carried a stick to fight tanks and stones to fight warplanes. They had nothing. All they had was their brains, and they used their ingenuity.

They have illusively eluded the enemy and fought with rifles against organized armies. In the process, they learned to scavenge for arms effectively. For the first time in the history of Africa, Eritreans fought a well-trained and armed army with armaments they took away from Ethiopian soldiers they killed and captured in battle and built a national army from it.

Eritreans fought the superpowers and Ethiopia with everything they had. They fought inside, Ethiopian held territories full of spies risking their lives. They fought for freedom from every corner around the globe by utilizing dedicated supporters abroad. They were resourceful, brilliant, and dedicated.

That, again, was a blessing that benefited independent Eritrea. It also created a network of organized Eritreans in every corner of the world. The traditions and values established then serve Eritrea in this challenging world in ways unseen anywhere. It is saving Eritrea from many threats threatening to wipe clean the blood of the martyrs and undo the hard-won independence.

Central in the struggle was a group of farsighted brilliant, dedicated, imaginative, and fearless women and men.  They were humble, down-to-earth, and conscious of the fact that Eritrea’s number one asset is her people.

They lead the struggle with a realistic approach to life grounded around established ethical, religious, and cultural values. They exploited those values and harnessed a work ethic that became a way of life in Eritrea. They empower the people by relying on self free from handouts. They taught them that only the collective effort can yield desired outcomes and supported that with a slogan, “Victory to the Masses,” and trekked believing, “Our struggle is long and VICTORY certain.”

They trekked unfazed by distractions meant to derail the struggle. They ignored it then as now saying,” let the DOGS bark as the camel strides.” And they arrived. They arrived into a new Independent nation, led by Tegadalay, His Excellency President Isaias Afwerki, alongside his comrades.

As a new nation, Eritrea required its leaders to meet specific requirements. The leader needed to be strong, visionary, committed, selfless, and experienced. It required a strong character with unshakeable faith in the people of Eritrea. It required incorruptible nature that would not sell the people as they do all over Africa.

It required someone with a military discipline, with a work ethic, unfazed by the temptations of glitz and glamour. It needed someone who knows the people of Eritrea and has personal attachments, understanding, compassion, and genuine affection. It required knowledge of the anguishes, hardship, and painful struggles Eritreans went through. They needed someone who knew their homes and families. Above all, they wanted someone that would honor their sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers that perished. They needed someone that could carry the mantle in their honor everywhere.

Eritrea did not need a ruler. Eritrea needed someone to be a captain of the Eritrean submarine in uncharted waters. Because every Eritrean is capable of playing their part as they have for decades. Eritreans assumed roles to succeed.

Every Eritrean is a leader. That is what Eritrea requires from all her children, without exception. The tasks at hand for all Eritreans are so varied and numerous that they require them to roam free, representing their nation in every aspect of life everywhere. It required filling all the gaps by improvising when needed. That makes for a great partnership between a country and leadership, and it works harmoniously.

Eritrea is a blessed nation with a leader that the world has ever seen without exaggeration. President Isaias is one of the greatest of gifts of Eritrea. It is not common to praise a leader in Eritrea. Maybe that is wrong because it is good to encourage people.

Eritrea, however, is squeamish about showering people with praises because they all have contributed mightily for Eritrea in many ways. It is because thousands have paid with their lives. In some homes, entire families are gone. Thousands have been wounded, lost limbs, and sacrificed in many ways with their near and dear. However, this special occasion warrants praising one of Eritrea’s greatest heroes.

President Isaias met all the requirements and more. He is the source of strength, unity, the voice, a parental figure, a brother, and a warrior in trenches. He is the guide that points Eritrea in the right direction.

He led the mothers to the water to quench the child’s thirst. He is a farmer roaming throughout the country, greening the land wherever he goes. He is the teacher that believes all the kids must have the same opportunities to learn, not to get out of poverty as the primary objective but to lift Eritrea to the highest of standards.

He is the doctor’s friend who saw a nation’s health as a national imperative and built medical facilities throughout Eritrea. He is a man that knows military strategy, intelligence, security, and geopolitics. He is the man that founded one of the strongest armies in the world and created a national service program to ensure perpetuity.

To call Eritrea’s achievement of the last 70 years miracle is an understatement. Because of what they achieved as leaders, they should be looked at as the most outstanding leaders of our time.

They are models Africa can emulate. Their commitment to freedom and to build a nation by relying on itself was unprecedented. What is even mind-boggling is the simplicity of the formulas they employed. Their focus is on the masses to be aware, organized, and armed for life.

In life, the average person is limited to specific accomplishments, and most of the time, it is personal.

What His Excellency President Isaias Afwerki has done with his life is admirable. Eritrea is blessed to have leaders that function at high levels. However, President Isaias epitomizes the best of them. He is selfless, focused, brilliant, and a true Eritrean who made Eritrea his life’s work.

He lived for Eritrea, making Eritrea his mission, his way of life and life. He gave his life for Eritrea. That commitment is why he oversaw Eritrea’s transformation through critical stages that propelled Eritrea into the world stage that we are witnessing today.

He saw the beginning and lived the transformation. He experienced all the ups and downs of the Eritrean revolution from a higher position. He lived through the hardships to see the independence of Eritrea by defeating enemies. He oversaw what seemed unthinkable, the overthrow of the Derg regime, facilitated a regime change, and produced the signature that engraved Eritrea as a member nation of the UN. He ushered Eritrea into a New Era of Independence through the referendum.

Soon after independence, Eritrea was challenged as a nation militarily, politically, economically, and in every conceivable way by enemies that wanted to reverse hard-won independence. His Excellency guided the country with strength and showed Eritrea the way out into the new platform of freedom that is in the process of placing Eritrea on par with the rest of the developed world at unprecedented speed, shocking detractors and naysayers.

The only way to describe it will be to liken it to a nuclear submarine navigating through the darkest and most hostile of deep waters under extreme pressures. The President guided it through the deep waters into an oasis.

To say we live in the most contentious part of the world is an understatement. All one has to do is think of Djibouti, Yemen, Somalia, Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia and think about the internal strife in these nations. Think about the geopolitical interests of the superpowers that want to destroy any semblance of nationalistic attitudes in the region. Think about the greedy that wish to exploit our riches at the expense of the people. Yet, only Eritreans are genuinely enjoying their nation in its most authentic forms communally in unison with President Isaias in observance.

As Wedi Tkabo sings, “Eritrea’s umbrella is untouchable by the raging fire because you are our cover, Butterfly.” The raging fire and poverty plaguing the region are distant from Eritrea because leaders bought Eritrea time and anchored the people in united purposes. That is the hard truth that the enemies are finding hard to swallow.

I am, and we are Isaias Afwerki because we all stand for Eritrea’s common purpose.

To subjugate Eritrea and make the people of Eritrea kneel and bow; with the idea, if you cut the head, the body will fall; the enemies of Eritrea waged major demonizing campaigns against His Excellency President Isaias Afwerki.

They want to separate the President from the people. They claimed President Isaias is Eritrea. The reality, however, where Eritrea is today is the cumulative result of the hard work of the people.

Hence, His Excellency President Isaias is not Eritrea, but Eritrean representing Eritrea, his people.

And the people are saying yes!

Eritreans are flocking to New York from Europe, Canada, the West Coast, and the US to show him support.

They are flocking in busses, planes, and cars, spending thousands to say, “We are All Isaias Afwerki. He is us, we are him, and we are Eritrea and, nothing can change that”!

 

Eternal Glory to Our Martyrs

 

 

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