What makes the city of Asmara look different during the Independence Day from all other days? One may say the shimmering bright lights that adorn the city and make it look aesthetically pleasing to the eyes.
Another one may be delighted because he will get time off from a rather busy class or work schedule all in the name of a public holiday. There are also people who get joyous watching the carnival and other various live shows that are displayed on the streets and the great stadium or may be the special television programmes that represent the commemoration of the precious day.
Most of the time the day falls on a cold and rainy season and every citizen is supposed to be in a huge jacket to protect themselves. The months prior to the month of May are characterized by the prevalence of scorching weather.
It was May 23rd. That specific day was a day full of fogs and dews. The city of Asmara looked like a paradise more than an ordinary city. There were countless people in the streets walking together while others were sitting on the stairs of the Cathedral watching around as they chatted. More than a few people chose to seek the warm shelter of a cafe and drink something hot that could keep them warm. The owners of cafeterias and restaurants must have missed the cold month to death, as they will generate large dimes from the cappuccino, macchiato, coffee and tea that they would sell.
The heart of every Eritrean beats one rhythm in the mystery of the beauty of the day, because its beauty is not only credited to the coldness of the weather, or the aesthetics of the decorations of the town, or the live and television shows. But the precious cost paid to bring the long-awaited independence home sweet home, rightly where it belongs.
When the topic of independence is raised in every home the first thing to be recalled and raised is the life of many Eritrean martyrs who were lost in the bloody war to safeguard our sovereignty. Those who could have married and created a family, those who could have touched many hearts and reached many souls, those who could have changed the world and put their marks on it had just passed away and will never come back again. I wish I could change the law of nature and bring them back to life just for an hour so as to see their faces, to kiss them and to feel their hugs. They were born Eritreans who had to rescue their mother land, a land with untold natural and societal resources, a land that was subjected to injustice and biased judgments of international laws, with the world’s deaf ears falling on its cries.
They [Tegadelti] were hungry and thirsty, but they were dynamic enough to carry guns across the mountains of Sahel. Others came from abroad and joined the struggle. They chose to be remembered by their heroic deeds and gave up their comfortable lives and treasures to fight alongside their people. They threw away McDonald and chose to eat ‘wedi aker’; they left their sofas behind and opted for roughness and stones, all to free their disadvantaged people.
They had a strong and passionate belief that it isn’t the furniture that makes the big difference but the building. To this end they gave away their blood, flesh and bones to build Eritrea instead of buying their own lives and decorate theirs. Their bones were crushed, their blood was sucked and their fleshes were beaten. They were unclothed and uncovered to the extent that the hotness and coldness of the wilderness were crossing their nerves deep inside. The war blew wide open, taking the life of so many Eritreans to the burial ground huddled together in Eritrea, the land of diversity that embraces the white and black, the farmers and traders, the workers and students, the nine ethnic groups as a whole in one basket.
During the war times Eritreans ached for the arrival of independence and pined for peace. Every citizen wanted to release all the latent discomfort that had been locked in his mind and heart. But they could not because they were under the bondage of cold-blooded colonialists.
The Eritrean armed struggle officially started in 1961 by Hamd Idris Awate. He was the first person to struggle against the enemies courageously. After Hamid many fellow Eritreans carried on with the struggle. Some held guns, some formed national organizations. The struggle was carried out in different forms, some individually and some collectively, some within Eritrea and some outside of the country. Prior to the start of the struggle the most outspoken and prominent forefathers like Ibrahim Sultan, Woldeab Woldemariam and Shek Abdelkadr Kebire contributed a lot to the cause, starting from enlightening and organizing people to conducting meetings and delivering speeches at the United Nations for Eritrea’s rights. With time a bloody war of 30 years broke out. The freedom fighters had a strong desire to get rid of colonialism and oppression and bring about a new dawn of the liberation of Eritrea. They came from every corner of the world to join the struggle. Those who couldn’t join supported and contributed to the cause through various means. After having paid thousands of precious Eritrean lives, 1991 independence was achieved.
It came at a cost; a mother of five children was left handless, as the war took her children to their burial grounds. Important infrastructure was torn apart, many people in the cities and villages were murdered in coldblooded act of cowardice, the economy was devastated and left in ruins, the population was emotionally demoralized and psychologically traumatized. But Independence comforted and enabled Eritreans to come as a collective unit and rejoice for free Eritrea. Those who sought death in order to bring independence but were lucky enough to see a free Eritrea buried their dead and foresaw the bright and golden future of Eritrea. Since then the Eritrean people and government have focused their attention on the reconstruction of the country and ensuring social justice based on the all-important policy of self-reliance which was the backbone of the 30- year struggle that culminated in the achievement of independence. Since then the Month of May has been commemorated by every Eritrean as a Month of freedom, deliverance from the bondage of emperors and oppressors. The Month of May holds a special place in the hearts of every Eritrean.