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Where Culture and Nation-Building Intersect (PART III AND FINAL)

The definite time when the EPLF began to activate in cultural activities or work of arts effectively was in late 1975, but when we look back to the time before 1975, it was the time which the EPLF was in its earliest stage and was a small mobile guerilla group that consisted a number of platoons. The whole situation did not allow for any substantial cultural movements, even though there were some gifted combatants trying to entertain their fellows using basic traditional instruments such as Krar and flute, that being on the platoon level, there was no cultural set up in the front level.

Culture is the road of social life embodies people’s ideology, beliefs, custom, laws, moral, languages and artifacts. And in the past thirty years of was the EPLF has tried to bring these aspects of Eritrean cultural in to prominence. Since the existence of Eritrean culture in the EPLF organization was an essential factor for the conquest of national independence in the above aspect of it. So it is sensible to discuss the culture activities of the field and particularly the artistic aspect of it. Gradually the cultural groups began to enhance, starting from the team level up to the upper division level of the organization without exception, even in the training area, in the health service area and so on. These cultural groups began to infiltrate the idea of working (workers class) philosophy to the masses, which was the main ideology of the organization, at this time art was used for agitation and enlightenment; the organization try to push the society towards passion.

When it said preservation of culture from the writer point of view, it mean that the struggle against the westernization in general and particularly against the Ethiopian concept of Amharanization or the fashion of Shoa or Mahal Hager’ so the Derge regime at any time could try to replace the language of the Eritreans by their language as it happened in the schools medium of instruction, the songs by their song and also generally to replace the plays with their plays-this was deliberately designed to destroy the cultural values of the society by undermining it as it was back ward and weak. As Amilca Cabral clearly pointed out, the value of culture as an element of resistance to foreign domination lies on the fact that culture is the regions manifestation of the ideological plan of the physical and historical realty of the society that is dominated or to be dominated culture is simultaneously the fruit of people’s history , by positive or negative influence which it exerts on the evolution of the relationship between man and his environment, among men or group of men with in a society, as well as different societies. Ignorance of this act may explain the failure of several attempts at foreign domination-as well as the failure of some liberation movements.

The other work of this process of the cultural preservation was that the EPLF began to involve itself in the life of Eritrean societies which lived abroad – there people, not only lost their land but also they were completely isolated from their culture, so they could easily be influence by the foreign cultures – to solve this problem a number of EPLF cultural groups went to different countries of the world, to perform their cultural show indifferent occasions either in the form of cultural night or by organizing various festivals. These festivals reflected cultural diversity by ensuring participation of artist from different cultures and helped in portraying the rich and diverse histories of Eritrean communities.

Culture is the total production and reproduction of men and women in society and as such the full expression of social relation of production and exploitation, that operate in the society. Eritrean artists
in the field had already embarked on the program of cultural change, which seek to realize the full creative energies of the people. They have taken part in the struggle of the development of popular culture as part of the struggle for independence. The transformation of culture through artistic work to the new generation was essential to the continuity of the revolution, as the result the EPLF organization in the late of 1970’s began to train small kids with the Eritrean culture accompanied with skills of arts, under the name of red flowers – the members of this group were mostly under age or below the age of 15 and their
level also below grade seven. This association that was formed by the youth came form the rural and urban areas of Eritrea. At the beginning the association was formed simply for recreational purpose but later its importance began to increase and also the EPLF organization began to give it a special attention. So it can be concluded that the EPLF organization play on important role in the transformation of cultural art from the old generation to the new one, in the field of music, drama, literature and painting through excessive education and training.

Cultural activities held during the safeguarding of the national sovereignty are not difficult to witness the contribution they done. In all those challenging years dozens of songs, dances and other artistic works were produced in all nationalities, most of them were highly appreciated of their arrangement and performance style. Deferent situations of the resistance were expressed through songs, dances drama, literature and painting A number of artistic works that keep up the moral of the people were produced, not only this, it was through this that the internal feeling of the people explained, it had the capabilities of expressing the triumph of the struggle, it could also reflect condition of the hardship and love, in general almost of every condition of life of the people were touched by the arts.

The state was encouraging every nationalities to develop their culture through all means possible; all the cultural groups were a member of those nine nationalities. The cultural department had skilled cultural members who were not only write and sing national plays, poem and songs but also held research traditional cultural practice and dance. New songs were written to celebrate victories against the enemy and important events, but they also reflect the importance of unity in the struggle. These cultural bands had great contribution in mobilizing the people towards their national feeling. It was a good example in the equality of all the nationalities. These cultural troops had gone to abroad wherever Eritreans are resided in order to refresh with their culture and motivate through these cultural activities to fight their enemy, as well as to make them alert of their people and country. The need to cultivate mutual respect and tolerance through the knowledge of the history and the traditions of one’s country with all its communities is essential in the development of a common national identity. This national consciousness is fundamental in trajectories of nation building and the formation of a single culture towards a united nation. Implementation of these programs would surely play a major role in unifying the different sectors of society and shaping a reverent popular culture conductive for nation building. The appreciation of cultural, linguistic and religious differences could then pave the way to a more open, tolerant society that will propel the nation forward to face the challenges of globalization. All these happening had favorable outcomes for the nation-building.

First they motivated youngsters to contribute their part for the goal of nation-building, second, they were significant in fund raising and thirdly, they awakened national feelings in every corner of Eritrea and of course in the Eritrea community outside the country. They were especially significant in the commitments and involvement of young people and they enhanced the multi-nationalities of the state.


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