The slogan the EPLF used from the beginning, ‘‘enlighten, organize and Arm the Masses,” is one of the basic foundations of the victory achieved by the people of Eritrea. After independence one of the six basic principles outlined in the national charter of Eritrea (1994) that serve as guidelines for our activities is active public participation. Active and organized participation of the people, based on political consciousness, is a basic condition for the success of any national undertaking.
The dominant consensus, narrowed and ensnared by liberal ideas, contracted the implication of public participation to mean merely participating in periodic elections. Rather, when we say public participation we mean that the people should participate in all decisions that touch their lives and their country. Eritrean people participated in the liberation struggle, the defense of the nation and reconstruction. Eritrea has a leadership that consciously comes close to its people. The leadership is guided by the belief that, it is impossible to advance national development without the full participation of the people. In Eritrea development, defense, security and other national agendas are done by the people, to the people and for the people.
The history of Eritrea is engineered by the youth. Eritrean youth have always been in the forefront of all the historically recorded national engagements. During the thirty years war of liberation, the youth had a prominent position and participation. The banners of our revolution were raised by the conscious and committed youth of the time. Youth from different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, tied by a common rope of nationalism and the desire to be independent flocked to the field with a sweeping power of thunderbolt. After independence the Sawa generation, “Warsay”, assumed the historic responsibility of defending and transforming the country. The patriotism of the new generation was demonstrated in safeguarding the country from the TPLF invasion and in the ongoing development campaign.
Patriotic upbringing in post independence Eritrea has been carried out in Sawa aimed mainly at raising the mental and physical strength of Eritrean youth and preparing young males and females to defend the country. In Sawa, Eritrean youth from different parts of the country and all walks of life come together. A patriotic commitment to one’s country requires active participation. Without patriotic youth participation, there cannot be development of any kind. The national charter of Eritrea stipulated that “Internal democratic life and the cultivation of popular participation are critical not only for the unity of the Front, but also to clarify and enhance its policies, and to identify and correct any shortcomings.”
Participation and debate require appropriate forum. This year, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) has initiated a monthly platform of education and discussion for the youth. The programme is intended to enhance the participation of youth. All youth working in different ministries and non-governmental organizations have been gathered once a month to discuss issues. The participants and moderators of the forum are all young under 35 years of age. The youth platform is organized to widen their knowledge, open an avenue of discussion, and to forward their ideas and criticism freely.
One of the greatest challenges facing governments and policymakers in developing countries today is how to provide opportunities for the youth so that they can contribute to the development and dignity of their countries. Undoubtedly, the challenges for the youth that are central to Eritrea’s overall development are numerous and varied. Equally important, the government of Eritrea, with all of its difficulty, has set out appropriate policies that deal adequately with the issues facing the young and is attempting to harness their innovation and dynamism. Eritrea is working for her youth and show concern for the growth of the young generation.
It is evident that the new generation has stood on the foundation laid by its predecessors to realize their future status and the future of the society and the country. The new generation also has to recognize its responsibility to pave the way for the coming generation. The new generation, “Warsay”, has several advantages over the older ones. As a group they are beneficiaries of the equal opportunity to education that was once a privilege to few. Generally, they are more educated than the older ones. Therefore, they can better absorb new technologies and ideas and adapt them to the Eritrean reality.
The aim of the monthly platform of education and discussion organized by the PFDJ is to remind the youth that they are the owners of this period. It is to allow them to comprehend that they are the successors of an ancient civilization and unparalleled glorious revolution. The youth must also believe that they have enormous capabilities, to think bigger and be prepared to make history at national, regional and international levels. MAO has once said about the youth that “The world is yours, as well as ours, but in the last analysis, it is yours. You, young people, full of vigor and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the sun at eight or nine in the morning. Our hope is placed on you.” Likewise Eritrea’s future belongs to the youth. The young people are the most active and vital force in every society. They are the most eager to learn and the least conservative in their thinking. Therefore, Eritrean youth living inside and outside the country have to integrate with the people and must work to translate the dream of our fallen heroes.
Good intention, and opportunity alone, however, are not sufficient. To bring about the desired change we need to exploit the opportunity provided and participate actively in the platform of education and discussion. Many youth across the world are now raising questions because they feel alienated from the politics at home. Eritrean youth, however, are invited to be active participants in the political, economic, social and cultural lives of the country, and the government is coming close to the youth to enable the full participation of everyone. Historically, during the liberation struggle, members of EPLF from top to bottom were all youth although all sections of the Eritrean society were involved in the revolution in unity and equality. Now also, the unity, equality and participation of all segments of the Eritrean society spearheaded by the youth should be our bases to accomplish our development programs.
Today, the intensive propaganda has gained power to bluff and ensnare the naïve youth. Because of their lack of political and social experience, a number of young people are unable to maintain the balance between what has been said and done.
Therefore, the monthly youth platform of education and discussion can help Eritrean youth to comprehend the reality and hardships the people went through the struggle to free themselves from Ethiopian colonization and equally the difficult period of “no peace no war” situation sustained by the irresponsible international bodies and guarantors of the Algeris peace agreement. In Addition to that the youth platform can enable the young to see the contrast between the old and the new Eritrea and its future prospects. In the midst of huge propaganda campaign aimed at distorting the psychological condition of Eritrean youth, it is imperative to carry on effective political education among the youth to tell them the truth and discuss with them how to overcome the existing problems.
As a young country, Eritrea is now poised to satisfy the appetite of the youth and to realize their dreams and build the country they want. The journey toward this end requires the full participation of the politically aware, technically competitive, and morally modest youth. With its youthful population, Eritrea stands to be the country of innovation and modernization. As the Chinese adage says “If you are thinking one year ahead sow seeds, If you are thinking ten years ahead plant a tree. If you are thinking 100 years ahead educate the people.” Since Independence, the government of Eritrea has embarked on the expansion of education to promote the country’s long-term growth. Eritrea’s future progress is ultimately based not on natural resources but on the accumulation of human capital.
Today in all of the developing world demographic issues like urbanization, youth and migration are increasingly becoming development related subjects. Migration has recently featured as a key area of concern in development agenda. As a developing country, Eritrea’s development program can’t escape from the negative influence of migration. In the recent past many young Eritreans who have got wide educational opportunity at all levels left Eritrea for various reasons but largely attributed to global conspiracy. But in a further blow to their plans, even the youth who left the country have not fallen prey to their traps. They have not betrayed their country and have not forgotten their families. The Eritrean youth refused to descend to their unscrupulous levels.
Subversive activism and distorted narratives of all kinds continue to misinform the public about human right condition in Eritrea. Ruby Sandhu has said that the first priority in any engagement with Eritrea on the Protection of Human Rights is the implementation of the EEBC. When mentioning the global conspiracy aimed to suck the best mind and body of the country, no one is blind to see some of the pushing factors that originated from within. But in the final analysis migration is not a solution and, hence, we have to confront our problem. Nation building is homework of generations. Each generation has its own opportunities, challenges, and historical obligations. The historical responsibility of today’s youth is to confront poverty and its consequences.
Every person of conscience has to know the fact that to misrepresent the honest, resilient and committed youth of Eritrea that have made the history of its own is a crime. Eritrean youth, like their predecessors, are now organized to defend the national security of Eritrea and to participate fully in the development programs. The YPFDJ, a global level association, organized all young men and women in the diaspora and is among the strongest organizations that stand for the protection of the country. President Issaias Afewerki has once said that “It is well known that most of our politics, news and diplomatic activities are conducted by the people rather than through embassies or special delegations.” Inside Eritrea NUEYS is a youth organization that stands for the betterment of Eritrean youth with a mission “to organize and build a versatile youth that are aware and proud of their culture, identity, heritage, and history.”
In conclusion, the future of Eritrea now rests on the hands of the young. Therefore, the youth must understand and be aware of the inevitable barriers, hurdles and challenges that occur in the course of the journey. They must focus on the fruit and not the thorns, and continue marching by overcoming the impediments. The medal of victory is only attainable after persistence and numerous ups and downs. In order to overcome the existing challenges and bear our historical responsibility, we have to utilize the opportunities at hand. We have an independent country, a government and Front dedicated to advance national interest. To make history in building and defending Eritrea the youth have to develop historical, political, economic and security consciousness. Development of Eritrea can only be realized through us and those who are conscious.
Disclamer: articles published in this column do not reflect the stance or opinion of Eritrea Profile