Massawa, a city which for centuries had been one of the region’s most important ports, had been under different colonial regimes.
Whenever the month February comes, every Eritrean remembers the port city of Massawa and the military operation carried out by the EPLF, ‘Fenkil Operation’, which saw the liberation of Massawa. This operation was one of the greatest strategic offensives conducted by the Eritrean people. It was done in order to totally drive out the Ethiopian colonial army, which was supported by the superpowers of the day, and was the biggest military in black Africa.
This operation signaled the opening of the door for the total liberation of Eritrea from the tyrannical rulers of Ethiopia.
Three decades ago, Massawa, the pearl of the Red Sea, was liberated from the well-equipped military regime of Derg by the famous Operation Fenkil. A sudden and swift attack changed forever the future map of the liberation struggle. The operation brought the sun to the Eritrean people to see the light for the upcoming freedom.
Operation Fenkil is one of the greatest strategic offensives and feats consummated by the Eritrean people. It revealed 30 years ago that one can only find justice through one’s own struggle and determination and not through charity. Few other military engagements can be compared to the bravery, efficiency, swiftness and military finesse with which Operation Fenkil had been carried out. The operation, which had destroyed any chance of the Derg remaining in power for long and eradicated all the Derg forces in Massawa and its vicinities, is one of the greatest military maneuvers in Eritrea’s history.
The Eritrean people had been able to secure their right to self-governance on their own terms not because they had waited for charity and sympathies from others or not because they had succumbed to unprincipled diplomatic tactics, but because they had confidently struggled for it by depending only on their own internal resources. Fenkil Operation is a living reminder that if we hold on to our principles in our present or future endeavors in the face of baseless threats and dubious diplomatic tactics, then nothing can deter us from ultimately realizing our long-term vision.
Fenkil Operation was the product of incredible fortitude and determination of the people. Moreover, it was an educational experience that taught us to stick to our principles and objectives despite the schemes engineered by enemies as well as so called friends in the name of peace-talks to deter us from our journey to realize peace and success.
The liberation of Massawa broke down the chains of colonialism, heralded the dawn of freedom and fueled the hope and faith of Eritreans inside and outside the country. Although Operation Fenkil made it clear that Eritrean independence was inevitable, instead of counting their human and material losses in the 30 years of war, Ethiopian colonizers continued to play the desperate game of fire. Still their last minute attempts could not amount to anything and soon the EPLF liberated the entire Eritrean nation and closed the chapter on the people’s struggle for independence.
Having gained their freedom through their own struggle, the courageous Eritrean people never viewed independence as their ultimate objective but rather as the first crucial step towards establishing peace and justice. Hence, soon after securing independence, the Eritrean people embarked on the struggle to rebuild and develop the nation, and just as in the days of the struggle for independence, the Eritrean people continue to score miraculous feats one after the other. The port city of Massawa is one example that proves the above fact. One can see the reflection of a promising nation that picked itself up from the ashes of prolonged war and speeding towards development in the port city that heralded the freedom of the entire nation.
Congratulations to all on the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the port city of Massawa! And Congratulations to the people of Eritrea whose history of courage and patriotism is unparalleled!