Eritrean Unity is Like No Other. As an Eritrean, I can’t help but observe the Eritrean mindset, try to understand, and explore what it means. I try to see how it manifests and what it means to the people. To investigate, I looked back at our history and the road we traveled to get to where we are. Most importantly, in trying to understand why we succeeded in getting to this point, I explored to discover what is the essential ingredient that made us successful as people.
The answer is Unity. The Unity of the people is what tells the story. We Eritreans are united, have been united for centuries, and we will remain united.
We are united because we have a rich background and history. The untold history of Eritrean laws, customs, culture, and traditional approaches to conducting life in Eritrea is centuries old. It is documented history hidden until now due to foreign colonial impositions.
Most outsiders who have little idea about Eritrea and the history of our journey may think the Unity of the people starts with the struggle, especially under the direction of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF).
That is a wrong conclusion. It is the Unity, the customs, the cultures, and the collective understanding of the people that propelled the EPLF. It is the lessons the Eritrean fathers and mothers taught them about what Eritrea stands for.
Italy ruled Eritrea for half a century. During the Italian colonial periods, Eritreans faced segregation and slavery. Italy believed that Eritrea was an extension of Rome in Africa and treated the people as non-citizens in their own country. Italy had big ambitions in Eritrea and the region. Italy’s drive to occupy Ethiopia in 1935 brought World War Two to Eritrea. These significant international developments had a terrible impact on the lives of Eritreans. Italy’s campaigns to build and establish Eritrea as a representation of Italy in Africa and the atrocities Italy committed against Eritreans were exhaustive. In short, Italy tried to strip Eritrean identity. In addition, the global events of the time and the pressures the British, French, and US forces brought during World War Two were intense. These significant international developments had a terrible impact on the lives of Eritreans.
After Italy, it was the turn of the Western powers. The US and Britain were determined to see Eritrea dissolved. We now know how the West, the same actors, namely, the US, Britain, and France, who are conducting regime changes and creating all types of mischief worldwide, were behind the engineering of the indefinite subjugation of Eritreans.
Those regime change activities started in 1941 in Eritrea when the US and Britain decided Eritrea could only serve their interests when it was placed on a system they manufactured to suit their interests. First, they controlled Eritrea using the British Military Administration. A decade later, they started a Federation arrangement they created to give the annexation of Eritrea international legitimacy and to ease Ethiopia into Eritrea.
While under all these pressures, Eritreans remained focused and steadfast. The US and Britain successfully implemented a federation system that ran for almost a decade. And after 1962, when Ethiopia forcibly annexed Eritrea, the fate of the future of Eritrea was sealed. Eritrea became a province of Ethiopia.
With the above-described background in the backdrop, the struggle for Independence started in 1961. It started less than a decade from when Ethiopia entered Eritrea under the federation’s banner.
However, less than ten years after the annexation, the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) were on the doorsteps of Asmara. In a short period, Eritreans managed to create a movement ready to take out the occupiers. By 1974/75, the Eritrean fronts could have controlled Eritrea and got Independence had they chosen to do so.
However, the disagreements between the two fronts were so volatile that if Eritrea became independent by force, the Unity that we see in Eritrea today might not have been compromised. The Italians, the British, and later Ethiopia managed to seed discord and disharmony between ethnic, regional, and religious lines that manifested during the struggle.
However, after it became the sole custodian of the struggle, the EPLF worked for the reunification of Eritreans. And under the umbrellas of Victory for The Masses; the core belief that the mass must be educated, organized, and armed, believing that the road to victory may be long, but victory is certain. The EPLF was adamant about Self Reliance and the idea of progress with our Strength. The people of Eritrea, no matter where they may have resided at the time, embraced the EPLF ideal and ran with it to victory.
There may be a misconception that Eritrean Unity results from the struggle for the Independence of Eritrea. However, before the EPLF became the central core of the Eritrean struggle, it was the Unity of the people that propelled the ELF, the EPLF, and later the PFDJ to become what they are today.
Eritreans were united during the Italian colonial period. The untold stories, the heroic struggles Eritreans waged during the occupation, are yet to be told. Our fathers told us the stories of how they snaked out and met at night after the Italian colonizers slept.
We now know the modus operandi of the US and British and how they manipulate people, politics, governments, and the international system to put in place structures that help them control people and nations. They did in Eritrea with the federation.
With the blessings of the US, the British dismantled Eritrean infrastructures, destroyed the economy and targeted Eritrea’s brilliant skilled labor force, and pushed them out of Eritrea. A massive chunk of the Eritrean population was forced to Ethiopia and helped build Ethiopia starting in the late 1940s and 50s.
However, the Eritreans never lost focus. The exciting part is that those pushed out of Eritrea were more determined Eritreans. They were the united engine that helped propel the struggle. The history of Eritreans’ connection with the struggle is one of the least written about subjects. The Eritreans who lived in Ethiopia were a united front. They were the shakers and movers of Ethiopia at the time. They were also the backbone of Eritrea.
This one example demonstrates how, no matter where Eritreans may reside, they are centered around Eritrea. Like my friend Mardokai says, “I may have left Eritrea, but Eritrea never leaves me.” No matter the circumstance, Eritreans are always focused and operate under the banner of Eritrea as a nation way before it existed as an UN-recognized country.
The Unity of Eritreans is silent. Understood. Eritreans are aware of what they need and must do to succeed. And they do it effortlessly. For the outsider, it is hard to put the finger on it. However, it is tangible. Eritreans know how to make it work automatically.
The stories of Eritrean mothers in Italy, Lebanon, and worldwide, their roles, and how they were the engine that propelled, fed, clothed, nurtured, and supported the struggle are yet to be told.
Eritrean Unity comes from the understanding that Eritreans must be one to succeed. We know the world may not be against us. But we know that if we disappear as people, the world could care less.
Eritreans are united in the heart and mind; they are united in purpose to see Eritrea standing and flourishing. They do it in joy, with love for one another. They are tireless, dogged, and relentless, always defending and promoting Eritrea as one. All of it happens naturally. They don’t need direction; they instinctively know what to do.
That is a blessing. No community in the world has mastered these secrets like Eritreans. That is why Eritrea, the first nation targeted by the US and Britain in 1941, managed to undo and reverse the damages they caused with sheer Strength and brilliance.
To this day, the machinations have not stopped. However, regardless of their attempts, they fail. Eritrea prevails and shines at 31 because of the Unity of the people of Eritrea.
Victory to the Masses
Happy 31 Independence Anniversary
May 24, 2022
Author The History of The USA in Eritrea