It is difficult to get rid of your masters if you have been living with them for a long time. You learn fast to stoop low and accommodate the unthinkable. Even in the absence of the former master, the mind bows to the shadow that still lingers in the slaves mind.
“I am independent!” he says, but he is not.
A slave is independent only when dreaming. The African slaves in Georgia dreamt about their Ashanti warrior kings, their elephant hunting expeditions and their Hajji to Mecca, where they prayed side by side with fair complexioned Arab coreligionists.
That was by night. By day, as a slave, you get accustomed to the masters’ manner of mistreating you and degrading you. Gradually, you come to love servitude. Servitude that makes you even miss a servile condition when it is already gone.
When the African slaves in America were set free during the civil war, many did not know what to do with themselves and their newly acquired freedom. What is freedom? They kept on saying. What is independence? It is difficult to look at a light source the instant you come out of a dark tunnel.
“Freedom is making the master happy.” Said the white plantation owner.
“Freedom is singing while picking cotton,” added his son.
Some even went back to their former masters. What can you do with independence if you have not learned to think, work and live independently?
But there were some in the crowd that were born rebellious. They hated their white masters all along. A fiercely independent blood ran inside their veins. They hated to be told to do this or that. They wanted to be free. They wanted nothing short of independence and with that, equality.
Spartacus (71 BC), a roman enslaved laborer and rebel led an uprising that defeated several Roman armies before he was killed in battle, he produced many followers in Europe who caused the downfall of Kings and tyrants for centuries.
After the death of Spartacus, slavery continued once again, what happened? The slaves were not organized to start with and had no political agenda. They did not fight to eradicate slavery but because they wanted a good master. An improved slave institution will do.
Besides, they did not learn to think independently. First they were slaves to the Romans, and as they followed Spartacus, they became his slaves.
If the enemy gives you your independence, it means he is either fed up with you (you have just become a case of diminishing returns) or he wants to come back through the door when you are not looking, that perchance he may rob you.
Don’t trust anyone to bestow independence on you, unless that person is inspired by some noble feelings which in many cases are to be taken with grain of salt. In the event, the unthinkable happens and you get your independence on a silver platter, you would have more chance to survive if you stayed clear out of his turf physically and mentally.
The Americans declared their independence in 1776. But at the same time there was also a declaration of dependence that echoed from the other side of the continent. We live in a very strange world, you know.
It is like the lion, which the moment it is set free in the woods after a long zoo life, finds it difficult to hunt on its own. It has been fed by its owners for too long, a time to be able to chase an antelope for dinner. Slavery and dependence is a wound that heals only slowly.
In America, the advocates or followers of such deviant ideas of dependence are said to have been tarred and feathered. That’s a very hard punishment for those who fail to grasp the meaning of independence.
Our fighters in the field learned to live independently for 30 years long bloody struggle for the liberation of this country. They depended on themselves and their meager material and human resources. They fought in their own manner and negotiated when they deemed it important. No one can tell them to say this or that or to turn this way or that way. They refused the help of those who approached them with ulterior motives of those who presented their help packages with future strings.
“You want to be a business partner?” was the question most often asked.
“What! Partners with you guys,” thought the guest.
“How about some diplomatic help for future compensation?”
To accept such a proposition would be a contradiction in terms; for one cannot fight for independence and at the same time be dependent on others in one’s activities.
The problem with some third world countries is that after declaring their independence they came to realize that during their struggle days in the fields and bushes or jungles, they have never been independent after all. They dealt with mercenaries, they made businesses with thugs and visited European countries in search of money and sympathy.
When finally, they got their land back, they woke up from their slumber only to find that they have lots of favors to repay and still more debt to settle.
After your independence, many countries tend to watch you behind the fence.
“What is this little country going to do next?” they will ask.
Some simply turn into vultures and watch from tree tops. Others come with their trade proposals and like to poke you on the rib. They want to know how much independent you are.
After May 24 1991 and later after the Referendum, many arrived just to test the waters. They discovered what they least expected. Independence to the point of arrogance. Many left disappointed, others stayed out of curiosity.
Nothing was changed since the struggle days. The perpetual slogan is come as partners not as masters!
To be independent is to be the master of your destiny. They way of taking care of your destiny is to become self reliant as much as possible. By working and developing one’s country, you gradually become economically independent. By educating the people, you become socially independent.
However, the colonial specter that haunts European minds does not feel comfortable with such doctrines.
What do you exactly mean by that? Says the cooperate world.
“I want to lead my life the way I want to. You reply.
“Forget it.” Huffs the samsonite-singling business man.
“We will see.” Sighs the skeptic.
In such a situation, the best way to keep and retain one’s independence is to watch every step you make. It is a tightrope walking that may cost you all that you have worked for all your life long, the moment you lose your balance and fall down, you will be falling right into the outstretched hands of your would-be saviors. And they will take you away and will treat you nicely and will try and cure you of your fever of independence and infection of freedom.
“How do you feel now?”They will ask.
“Fine, just fine.” You will say.
“Do you still believe in self-reliance?”
“It sounds like absolute terms to me, where did you get it from?” you wonder.
“How about the brand of independence you subscribe to before you were admitted to the hospital?”
“I lost all sense of independence and freedom during my free fall to the ground,” you conclude.
“That is more like it,” they will say rubbing their hands.
And you will never be the same ever again.
Eritrea this year is celebrating its Silver Jubilee Independence Day, a quarter century of resilience and development, let this be a testament to the Samsonite-singling business man that Eritrea is here to stay forever. Self-Reliance and independence are two words deeply imbedded in the Eritrean fabric of existence and no matter what outside aggression tries to push it out of balance, its people are here to pull it back up.