OEA Blog

Eritrea: 20 years of Progress towards Food Security and Self-Reliance

Today, mass food production and food banking is essential to the economic and political sovereignty of a nation. Globally, Food Security is a fundamental objective of populations and governments. Food is vital to all sectors of the people that make up a nation, starting from the smallest child to the most productive adult; it is essential to the growth, prosperity and stability of a country. In Eritrea food security has taken greater precedence as development policy in order to eradicate poverty and to achieve sustainable economic development.

Eritrea: The Land of Determination, Perseverance, and Sacrifice

According to the predictions of the so-called western political observers, analysts, and thinkers, Eritrea was not supposed to be independent. Nevertheless, against all odds, and in spite of myriads of hardships, Eritrea, thanks to its determination, perseverance and sacrifice became independent on 24 May 1991. In May of 1993, after its successful referendum (where 99.8% of its people voted for independence) Eritrea took its previously denied place in the assembly of nations. Grudgingly, some nations accepted the fait a compli of Eritrean independence!

After being politically, economically, and socially oppressed and subjugated for centuries by the Turks, Egyptian, Italians, British, and the Ethiopians, the people of Eritrea, in September 1st 1961, started an armed struggle to liberate their country. They wanted to be the champions of their own future and destiny. The armed struggle continued until 1991. Thirty years of tenacity, dedication, and commitment paid off and Eritrea was liberated.

During the 30 years of armed struggle for independence, Eritreans showed three pillars of steadfastness. Three exemplary qualities: determination to be free, perseverance to continue until the finishing line, and the commitment to pay the ultimate sacrifice to be free and independent.

Eritrea: 20 years of National Harmony

As Eritrea celebrates its 20th independence anniversary, few salient phrases are being used to sum-up the fruits its independence. The phrases include: “dignity”, “unity” and “pride.” One other key ingredient phrase that I want to dwell on today is “harmony.” Eritrean society’s harmonious coexistence has always intrigued and fascinated those who know Eritrea. Personally it’s deeply satisfying to be part of a society as diverse and scarred as Eritrea, yet with no match to its sacrosanct perfect harmony.

In the 20 years since independence, the societal harmony has been palpable. Granted, Eritrean harmony has been tested, challenged, disparaged and assaulted. And yet it kept maturing and intensifying. Eritrea’s 20 years of harmony is a model of a kind. That is why the independence journey has been described as a “Perfect Harmony...for National Dignity”.

Eritrea: 20 Years of Success in Social Justice

Social justice attempts to primarily help those who have no or inadequate access to social, physical and economic services. In the past 20 years, Eritrea has been able to rehabilitate, expand and build the national infrastructure that has provided millions of Eritreans with access to the wealth of the country. In this short period of time the country has been able to expand access to social and economic resources to the majority of its rural people and even within the rural people to those who have been disadvantaged from gender (women), age (children), and location (people living in remote rural areas).

Eritrea: Land of Gold, Heart of Gold

Since the beginning of recorded history up to 1991, various empires, kings and so called democracies have invaded, plundered and attempted to subjugate the people of Eritrea. The struggle for dignity and independence has taken many forms including a protracted 30 year armed struggle. The victory in 1991 and the referendum that followed two years later had given birth to a new nation. However, 100 years of colonialism, particularly Ethiopia’s plunder and wanton destruction, had left the country in ruins. Yet, this African country had something no other country can match, a dignified and proud people determined to build the country by its bootstraps. In its twenty years of Independence, Eritrea has managed to build what some have called a beacon of hope in a continent known for its share of tragic stories. The country has had very little income, yet the people of Eritrea have managed to build the vital structures of a country – schools, hospitals, roads, dams and much more. A feat only matched by the richest and most developed countries. The country now has vital income from its production of gold and enormous income potential from its explorations of potash.

Eritrea:First Two Decades of True Independence

On May 24, 2011 Eritrea is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its victory over Ethiopian colonial forces. Eritrea had suffered in the hands of three equally evil forces of occupation in hundred years (January 1, 1890--May 24, 1991): the Italians, the British and Ethiopians. Its May 1991 victory thus is the crown of its long-struggle for independence. It didn't come out of the goodwill of foreign powers. It was brought forth by the tenacity and determination of its people. Precious lives were paid for it: Eritrea's best and brightest. Sadly it was forced to pay another heavy price of equally precious children to defend its sovereign existence a mere 7 years later (1998-2000) from the very same forces it defeated in 1991: forces that salivate every time they hear the word Red Sea. Eritrea is also celebrating 20 years of genuine sovereignty. Here also it is paying a heavy diplomatic price for choosing to remain independent of the major powers that are allergic to the idea of seeing nations develop independent of their dictates.

An Ideal Destination: Eritrea

One of the least known destinations in the world, Eritrea is a breath of fresh air for the bored tourist. A sparkling, vibrant young nation on the coast of the Red Sea, it teems with pleasant surprises and natural rarities you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Among them: guided tours to ancient sites across desert and plains, ethereal views above the clouds on hikes in the highlands, strolls and impeccably made cappuccinos in art deco paradise that is the capital, nine colorful cultures on display at museums and exhibitions, and the cleanest locales with the lowest crime rates in all of Africa. For the tourist wary of trekking through dry landscapes, Eritrea hosts various tour routes to virtually untouched islands, and professional scuba training in one of the rarest Coral Reefs in the world. Best of all, in my opinion, is the hospitality amongst arguably the nicest locals you'd ever meet.

Eritrea is a Sacred Trust

I will start this essay with some words of our late Professor Tekie Fessehatzion:

"For people of my generation Eritrea's independence is a dream come true. But as Ato Woldeab wrote in one of his essays in 1946, political independence is not sufficient. We should not rest until everyone, regardless of his or her station in life is empowered to play a meaningful role in Eritrea's future. How that can come about is the greatest challenge facing post conflict Eritrea. But to play that role, one has to first understand Eritrean history. No amount of sophistication on democratic theory would do unless one has a basic understanding of how Eritrea came to be."

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