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National unity and formation of a broad National Democratic Front (Part II)

The Saho speaking people inhabit Eastern Akeleguzai, an area bounded by Tigrina speaking people on the west, and the Tigre speakers of Semhar on the east and north. Some of the Saho are settled agriculturist while others are semi-settled and engage in both farming and pastoralism. Except for very few Christians, the Saho are Muslims. And although clan and tribal formations and sentiments have visible traces, nationality ties and sentiments   predominate. The saho that lived in towns and adjacent areas were influenced by Italian colonialism while the others remaining were only minimally affected.

The Nara (Baria) speaking nationality is found in the central regions of Sarka. The Nara are mostly surrounded by the Tigre and many speak Tigre as a second language, while those sharing a common boundary with the Baza also speak Kunama. In the main, the Nara are settled farmers and are all followers of Islam. Inspite of tribal and clan differentiation, their sense of nationality is strong. They are also one of the nationalities that were minimally influenced by the Italian colonialism.

The Kunama speaking people inhabit the areas in and around Barentu and the parts of the Gash region which spread south west from the town. Inspite of a settled agricultural economy, primitive communal characteristics are clearly visible. Although most Kunama are adherents of either Christianity or Islam, many are animists and animist beliefs have substantial influence on all Kunama. Therefore the two most important religion faiths in Eritrea do not have much influence on the Kunama. The Italians had some effect on the nationality. They employed some Kunama in the plantation they set up in the fertile areas of the nationality and missionaries were active in the area.The Kunama are a cohesive nationality.

The Bedaweit speaking Hidareb nationality inhabits the northern frontier areas of Sahel and spread north west along the border. Insome areas penetrating the interland of Barka. In some localities they merge with the Tigre speaking peoples and the intermixed communities are bilingual. The interaction among the Hidareb is very minimal as they are very thinly spread. They are Moslems and solely depend on stock raising frothier livelihood. The Hidareb do not have strong national sentiments as they are dispersed over a large area and are one of the Eritrean nationalities least affected by colonialism.

The Rashaida speak Arabic and inhabit the coastal area in semhar and up to the tip of the northern border. Primitive cultivation is practiced in some localities, but the Rashida economy is based on nomadic stock raising and trade. The Rashida are Muslims and they alone have not intermixed with their neighbors. Nether   were they influenced by the Italian colonialism.

Beside the nationality structures and sentiments discussed above, a combination of other factors, including despite on agricultural and pasture lands came into play. Feeling of domination and mistrust were also prevalent among majority nationalities. In evaluating the influences of colonialism, the influence exerted by the Turks, Egyptians, and feudal lords of Tigraymust also be taken into consideration.

Within each nationality, the social and class division namely those between Tigre and Shimagle, serf and land lords, herder and livestock owner,  merchants and artisan, etc. are important factors in the dynamics of the nationality. Beside these, the new social forces that emerged with the advent of Italian colonialism also play an important role in the dynamics of the nation building. Sex and social status too are significant considerations. And all these factors have affected the Eritrean people’s participation in the various stages of the Eritrean struggle.

Therefore unity of the people and the nation means fostering, on the basis of a clear program and an understanding of the characteristics of various sectors of the society, the participation of all Eritreans whose interest lies   in national libation. Similarly, the struggle for equality demands the elimination from both the majority and minority nationalities of feeling of dominance and chauvintism as well as the apprehension and suspicion that give rise to narrow nationalism. It also calls for intense efforts to narrow the gap in the level of economic and cultural development that prevail among the nationality.

The EPLF strives to promote the unity of the Eritrean people on the basis of this understanding of Eritrean society. It strongly opposes sub national sentiments and working methods as these are antagonistic to national unity and harmful to the struggle for national liberation and reconstruction. It has worked seriously to raise the consciousness  of the people and to foster long term economic and cultural changes as these Are the most important and complementary requirements for strengthening national unity and accelerating nation-building. Guided by this perspective of national unity, the EPLF has been handling the question of unity of organization and groupings separately.

The difference between the EPLF and other organizations or groupings has centered on the question of a broad national democratic front. The proponents of the antiquated and bankrupt lines set up organizations based on the alliance of leader of clans, tribes and regional and religious groups, maintain the existence of these organizations or groups by compromises among the participating tribes and clans, create other new grouping based on similar narrow alliances and conspiracies whenever the narrow conflicts erupt and break up the former alliances, the more fragmentation, followed by the formation of new alliance…..and so on.

These groups have continued to exist not because their propaganda was accepted by our people, but because of foreign interferences in Eritrean affairs and especially because of the misery of our people in exile. The prime movers of these groupings and their main followers are not interested in national liberation, nor in national unity or the establishment of national democratic front. They realize the bankruptcy of their policies. For them the groupings they form are only means or securing a comfortable life, as they cannot gain fully be employed otherwise. Today they find themselves in sorry state, exposed by the EPLF and spurned by the masses who have become aware of their scandalous activities.        

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