This prestigious day, May 24th, is the most celebrated date in the Eritrean calendar. After successive occupations and repressions, Eritrea marked its independence on May 24th 1991. The thirty-yearlong armed struggle for independence was more than a war of arms for liberty. It was also, as it is known most for, a holistic revolution that saw past the Independence to a reformed sovereign African nation owned and built by its own citizens.
Now twenty seven years later, for the Eritrean people, independent and sovereign Eritrea means home to equality and harmony within cultural and religious diversity. The Eritrean people, are rejoicing in their unity based on a mutual consensus of respect to ethnic and religious diversity. Their strongest union is found, in a shared vision of a sustainable development for the country that is made free.
Eritrea’s post-independence period has been characterized by selfreliance, resilience, decentralized development and equal access to basic social services such as health, education and communication despite continuous external harassment. Notwithstanding the West’s demonization and isolation of Eritrea, its people work hard tirelessly towards making Eritrea stable once and for all.
For Eritreans, Eritrea is a dear home worth every drop of sweat and blood. External provocations for geopolitical gains might have hindered the national development drive from speeding as planned. However, the People and Government of Eritrea’s vision and toil towards that vision is livelier by the day. Therefore, as owners of their own struggle for independence, authors of the narrative of their country’s sovereignty and for the fact that they carry the heave of development on their shoulders, Eritreans respect and feel ownership of May 24th, Independence Day.
After an extended nation-wide celebration over the past week, that saw colorful cultural, artistic and social celebrations, followed by dazzling fireworks on the eve of May 24th and the firing of cannon salute in the morning of May 24th, in the afternoon of the same day, more than ten thousand Eritreans, invited guests and friends of Eritrea gathered at the Asmara Stadium for the official ceremony.
In the presence of President Isaias Afwerki, Ministers, Higher Officials, Diplomats, Invited Guests and friends of Eritrea, the official ceremony began at 4.30p.m with a minute of silence in honor of Eritrea’s Martyrs. Commissioner of Culture and Sports, Ambassador Zemede Tekle, opened the ceremony with a welcome speech. The Commissioner welcomed partakers and explained that festivities in occasion of this significant day, nationwide, have been prepared by nationals of all age, even children. These festivities, the Commissioner went on to explain, were colorful thanks to the passion and enthusiasm of the Eritreans from all walks of life.
On the occasion President Isaias Afwerki delivered a speech of felicitations. In his speech the President elucidated the paces the Eritrean Nation has been undulating on; a realistic rationalization of its ‘transitional’ journey. In his own words: “History teaches us that global and regional agenda are factors that have some impact on our national developmental trajectory. […] The end of the bi-polar world order – that coincidentally occurred in the same year of our independence – ushered in a uni-polar world order. […] The upheavals and devastation inculcated in the past twenty five years are fresh in our memories. This is indeed a matter of yesterday’s recorded history. All the indications are that this “uni-polar” world order will not have the predicted longevity. The turbulences that we are witnessing in global dynamics today can in fact be interpreted as the symptoms of a transitional phase. […] These scenarios cannot but provoke a host of questions.
We cannot be nostalgic of the bi-polar world order for very palpable reasons […] that we were compelled to pay a hefty price in the period that it lasted. Nor can we have any love lost for the uni-polar world order of yesterday. This was, again, a time when our sovereignty was threatened while an unfair and illicit sanctions regime was also imposed on us.
The road map of our national trajectory will have to be charted out taking these factors into account. In all eventualities, we will not act as mere onlookers with folded hands. We shall continue to strengthen our readiness for active engagement without any bias.”
President Isaias Afwerki then congratulated the Eritrean people for withstanding all and standing on its conviction of a strong and resilient nation. Asserting that the evolution of events has now resulted in a wider prospect Eritrea can benefit from, the President affirmed that in the coming three to five years Eritrea will engage in enhancing developmental sectors such as energy, housing, transport, technology and more.
The ceremony was decorated by the military parade. The layout beautifully displayed the Forces for Independence first followed by the Eritrean Ground Force, the Eritrean Naval Force, the Eritrean Air Force and the Eritrean Police Force.
Singers: Sham Geshu, Semhar Yohannes, Nahom Yohanes, Rezene Alem, Mohamed Druf and others preformed in the official ceremony. The cultural show ‘Mekete Hade Lbi’ which also added color to the ceremony was an act that represented the strength of the Eritrean people in developing national goals while together fighting corruption, fraud and foreign input. The show was mostly conducted by young actors/ dancers.
The two- hour long ceremony ended with the National Anthem.