Ask any Eritrean on what is in his/her mind whenever the month September is mentioned. For sure they would tell you that the month of September reminds every one two major events. One is that September is the end of the long rainy season and the beginning of a new one. It is the month that every Eritrean wishes a happy and prosperous new year with all its blessings. And most importantly September for Eritreans is perceived as a month in which the end of the beginning of the long suffering of the Eritrean people at the hand of the enemy, the enemy that was more inferior but with the help of some quarters and blessing happened to rule the more developed and industrious people.
As mentioned time and again Eritrea illegally and mischievously was made to fall under Ethiopian occupation. The Eritrean people had no alternative but to fight back through peaceful means to reverse the wrong and evil decision made by the international community to condemn Eritrea remain under occupation. Eritrean elders travel all the way to the UN to present their case but met with deaf ears. Even those countries who tried to sympathize with the call of the Eritrea delegate were silenced through intimidation. The ten years arduous peaceful struggle of the Eritrean people to reinstate the rule of law and have the chance to decide their destiny was for no avail and the Ethiopian regime continued to tighten its grip of Eritrea. After all they were after the land and not after the people.
Fully understanding that the fate of Eritrea is pre-decided by the international community that it will remain with their “strong” ally, Ethiopia, the Eritrean people had to look for alternative to undo the illegal occupation of their land. Hence, the Mount of Adal witnessed the birth of the long awaited event, the declaration of Eritrean revolution. In September 1961 a contingent of about seven men led by Idris Hamid Awate, formed the first force that would vanguard the struggle for Eritrean independence. And on September 1, 1961, the first bullet was shot that triggered the full fledge armed struggle for independence. From that day onwards the situation was just Alluta Contnua!
The momentum of the struggle grew every year with many Eritrean youths joining the struggle and eventually became a formidable army that could crash and annihilate the biggest army in Sub-Sahara Africa.
Countries that stood with the Ethiopian regimes and especially with the Derg regime did the level of their capacity to arm the regime with sophisticated military hardware including heavy artillery, modern fighter jets, and navy vessels. Above all they did every thing in their capacity to train the Ethiopian army in the hope they would be able to kill the Eritrean revolution and the aspiration of its people. However, the more weaponry arrives to the Derg regime the more the EPLF forces were armed. The maxim of EPLF during those times was kill the enemy with its weaponry, weaponry captured from the enemy and turns it to kill the enemy that used to own it. And that was what stunned many observers and historians on how the struggle got its momentum in favor of the very few but determined freedom fighters against a huge seemingly invincible occupation army. What they did not have in mind and did not understand was the psyche of the Eritrean people and the objective of the struggle. The Eritrean people were fighting for their very right while the Ethiopian regimes were for occupation and a struggle for the right cause would eventually succeed while the revers is likely to face its demise.
Today it is 51 years since the beginning of the armed struggle for independence. Thirty years of this half of a century, Eritreans were forced to dedicate their energy and time to free themselves from colonialism and enable Eritrea and Eritreans have their rightful place as country and people. During those thirty years the Eritrean people were forced to pay their dear life for a dear cause, independence and sovereignty. Worth to pay for restoring dignity!
When we celebrate the 51 years of the beginning of the armed struggle for independence it is with mind that the history of the Eritrean Revolution amply proved that a popular struggle for a just cause based on conscious, united and organized people is bound to triumph over a heavily armed colonial entity enjoying the support of the major powers. And determined that we build a new history out of past history so as to make use of our history as source of valuable lesson and wisdom, and thereby ensure the continuity and viability of history.
Long Live Bahti Meskerem!