In the course of the long journey to independence, the people of Eritrea developed rich cultural heritage and progressive values that gave guidance and strength in the face of adversity.
The thirty-year war of liberation has further developed the centuries old culture and value of the Eritrean society that gave them a unique identity among the world community. Nationalism, respect for humanity, solidarity, love of the truth and justice, hard work, self-confidence, self-reliance and perseverance are some of the characteristics of Eritrean culture. These deep rooted cultural elements have helped the Eritrean society to overcome obstacles, to resist and adapt to strained conditions and to thwart intimidation.
The Eritrean people gained and maintained their independence through resilience and endurance. They are now entering a new era of getting rewarded for their endurance and sacrifice. Eritreans did not succumb to the countless sufferings but instead sufferings caused them to build endurance and strength, which form the unshakable national character.
In his speech at the 28th anniversary of Eritrea’s Independence, president Isaias Afwerki highlighted the principal values that underpin our resilience in a concise language. He said “Not to succumb and yield to force and intimidation! Not to cede to illicit and duplicitous machinations! Not to compromise one’s dignity and values for cheap rewards and inducements! Not to be distressed under extreme duress! Not to be disheartened by overwhelming challenges! Not to tire with hard work! Not to spare one’s toil and blood, including one’s life! Not to relent until objectives are achieved!” The president added “These firm convictions … have been repeatedly demonstrated and have become the defining characteristics of the Eritrean people’s heritage.”
We have endured open military invasion, economic subversions, political maneuvers, diplomatic isolation, sanctions, campaign of demonization and psychological warfare. Resilience has been the weapon and through it many developments have been registered and made our sovereignty secure. Difficulties have always opened the sight and sharpened the mind of Eritreans.
Eritreans have developed over time the habit of calming the stormy and tense conditions. They have faith and confidence in their capacity and maintained the internal peace and serenity. The leadership and people of Eritrea have the ability to resist troubles, intimidation, pressure and difficulty. Peoples Front has an exceptional capacity to withstand the impact of a danger through patience, resistance, perseverance and careful observation.
Gelbard E. has defined resilience as “a condition where institutional strength, capacity, and social cohesion are sufficiently strong for the state to promote security and development and to respond effectively to shocks” (2015: 7).
Following its independence, Eritrea has encountered various challenges such as acts of terrorism from the former Sudanese government, TPLF instigated war of aggression and unjust sanctions. The arrows of threat have always hurled from all directions to undermine the performance and confidence of the nation. But instead of crushing it the hammer forges the country like an iron.
Let alone during independence, the people of Eritrea have remained resilient in the dark century of colonization. In the absence of a state and government of its own, the Eritrean society filled the void through its internal mechanism to substitute the function of national institutions. The development of customary laws and various traditional institutions demonstrate the wisdom, strength and resilience of the Eritrean society. Resilient communities are characterized by stability, peace, security, development and continuity under any circumstances. Eritrea has its own thermostat and regulation mechanisms. The Eritrean society has the capacity to withstand internal and external problems through locally-owned mechanisms. Throughout history no external force was invited to Eritrea to fix natural or man-made problems. Only resilient nations like Eritrea have the means of finding national solutions to national problems.
Another key component of the concept of resilience is the ability to manage and mitigate risks. Eritrea has been prepared for and responded to the increasingly diverse risks. Although we didn’t establish Sawa because we anticipated wars but we have seen practically the vital contribution of the Sawa generation in molding the destiny of Eritrea in the face of adversity. The national service is Eritrea’s key institution for the security and prosperity of the country. One of the songs of artist Sami Berhane has the following content: ????? ??? ?? ?? ???? ???? ???? ????? ??? roughly translated to “[he] saved the country by training in sawa and [he] foreseen the benefits of readiness.” The foresight to plan for unexpected risks and threats deserves appreciation. Eritrea’s resilience was demonstrated at best during trying times of the TPLF military adventure and the subsequent perils. Eritrea defended against the aggression by its own national capacity.
In addition to the capacity to prevent risks from occurring and worsening, the capacity to recover from danger is a show of resilience. Once the military adventure of the TPLF was silenced by the resistance and sacrifice of Eritreans the government quickly launched a rehabilitation and development program called the Warsay-Yikealo campaign. Therefore, resilience is the ability of a state to remain stable and recover quickly from risks. Eritrea demonstrated its resilience by her ability to mitigate and recover from undesirable conditions.
We can safely conclude that resilience has been Eritrea’s secret to success. In this new era of peace and cooperation, Eritrea can write another success story if we believe we can. As ever we have to adjust and adapt to the ever-changing conditions. Napoleon Hill has said that “No man has a chance to enjoy permanent success until he begins to look in a mirror for the real cause of all his mistakes.” President Isaias Afwerki, in his keynote address at the 28th Independence Anniversary said, “Before prematurely charting out new and permanent sustainable development programmes, it is imperative that we conduct extensive political, economic and security appraisals so as to properly diagnose the unfolding realities with requisite depth.” We have to identify, acknowledge and confront our problems.