It’s been a really tiring month. Celebrations here and there, everyone making merry and smiling. At the Ministry of Information, we’re usually busy when it’s May. May for us means we’re going to have a live coverage here and there, take part in the celebrations around the nation, airing live programs and on-spot broadcasts highlighting programs being featured.
“Why do we Eritreans celebrate our Independence Day with so much vigor compared to other nations?” was his question.
I mean, he is right. Why do we seem to lend so much fervor, color and happiness to this occasion? Of course, as a journalist, I’ve been to some celebrations. I’ve been to some receptions given by foreign missions in Eritrea. And they surely do celebrate their independence day. But I haven’t seen or found the zeal and intensity that I was able to witness tonight. In the case of Eritrea, even nationals living in the Diaspora, miles away from their Homeland celebrate it far beyond a routine merriment.
I found the answer on Eritrea’s celebration of its 20th anniversary of Independence.
Perhaps its because that our Independence Day not only signifies that we are a free nation, but more than that it signifies that together we are so strong that we could force anyone, even the strongest monarchy in the world to submit to our right of freedom. And in today’s context, it means that if we stand together united, we are stronger than the strongest nation in world, second to none.
It signifies that freedom cannot be constrained by anyone and that it is a right conferred to us by us that no one can take away. It is one day that reinvigorates the sense of nationalism in one and all. It rekindles a sense of ownership and a sense of belonging towards our country.
Every year, we celebrate our Independence Day with great fervor as well as joy and justifiably so, as it commemorates that Day, when after many years of subjugation, Eritrea gained its freedom. Indeed, in the annals of our history, May 24 will always be remembered as a day of an extraordinary accomplishment, of when our nation won its freedom with unparalleled fortitude and unique means. A movement that successfully inspired and rallied the masses in a manner rarely seen as hundredth and thousands of Eritrean men and women, willingly and enthusiastically responded to the call. They united to become an immense force that defeated the mightiest colonial power. Thus, free Eritrea was born 20 years ago today.
There’s also another reason why we should celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Independence, we should take pride in the extraordinary accomplishments we’ve achieved over such a short time. Perhaps it would be an understatement to say that Eritrea represents the greatest regional success story of the past decade; there is no place remotely comparable example of people always renewing their pledge to the cause for which many had died.
Thus, Independence Day should be celebrated with fervor. We should not forget the sacrifices of our Martyrs who helped make Eritrea an independent country. It was thanks to the efforts of so many that we now live and breathe freely, without any fear or dominance.
This year’s celebration of Independence Day was quite unique. For starters, it was really different as it was being celebrated on a time in which Eritrea stood firm against all odds and hostilities it was subjected against and also at a time in which the heavy toils and sacrifices we’ve made towards the nation-building process have started to pay off.
Ladies and gentlemen, the bright horizon is here. And that’s what we’re celebrating!
The official celebration of Independence Day was held here in Asmara Stadium. From early hours, invited guests, dignitaries as well as government officials flocked to the stadium grounds to take part in the celebrations.
The celebrations commenced with a calisthenics display in which hundreds of students took part in. The show, aptly called ‘The Clock’, symbolized the watch as a kick off for the independence programs. The students moved in unison, until the clock hit 7.
The official celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of Eritrean Independence Day was colorfully commenced in the presence of President Isaias Afwerki, Sudanese brothers, senior Government and PFDJ officials, religious leaders and diplomats, as well as thousands of citizens.
In an opening speech, the Chairman of the National Holidays Coordinating Committee, Mr. Semere Russom said that the potent force of the patriotic Eritrean people has been amply demonstrated in the course of this week’s celebrations on part of every Eritrean national.
Mr. Semere concluded his address by thanking all those who took part in the celebrations, including those in the Diaspora, the technical support teams as well as the Eritrean masses.
Taking the venue next, President Isaias Afwerki gave a keynote address on the occasion. President Isaias underscored the significance of the Day and its real essence.
“Freedom is not acquired through benevolence & submission or pleading. It is a persuit that nurtures through hard toil: not that is handed over a golden platter.” President Isaias said.
President Isaias went on to accentuate that this occasion is unique as it is being observed at a time in which we overcome all odds in the form of unjust sanctions under the rubric of the United Nations, overcome back burn of ploys and political scapegoats.
The president concluded his speech by congratulating Eritreans on this joyous occasion and thanking all those who toiled day and night towards the celebrations.
Following the speech, a musical drama was staged. The show, entitled ‘A Century of Resilience’ used the town of Nakfa as a symbolic point of reference in Eritrea’s course of history. The message was loud and clear. Although burned, bombed and leveled by the enemy time and time again, Nakfa stood against all attacks mounted in the days of the struggle of Independence, so shall Eritrea.
Various programs, including military parade, cultural and artistic presentation by a South African musical group, Umoja and visiting Eritrea artists as well as calisthenics with participation of students were featured during the occasion.
The official celebrations of the 20th anniversary of Independence Day concluded with fireworks at exactly 9:00 PM.