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The Pride of Eritrea’s Struggle for Independence

The trenches of the liberation struggle that reflect the history, belief, values and traditions of the Eritrean revolution is part of the cultural and historical heritage of Eritrea.

Heritage helps to interpret the past, understand the present and build a prosperous future. Therefore, preserving one’s heritage is very important for the development of a society.

The Eritrean revolution was a success story in the 20th century that earned respect for the Eritrean society, and the trenches are part of that history. At this time, concerted efforts of citizens living in Eritrea and abroad is urgently needed to rehabilitate and conserve every piece of our revolution’s legacy. The trenches, underground houses and other establishments constructed by the freedom fighters in various places, particularly in Sahil, need maintenance.

The protection, safeguarding, rehabilitation, as well as the promotion of our historical and cultural heritage in a sustainable way would have enormous contribution to the nation building efforts of Eritrea and offer benefits for the current and future generations. We regard with great respect the trenches of Nakfa and other places for their contribution to winning the struggle for independence.

The national charter of Eritrea states that a society that does not respect its own cultural heritage is a bankrupt society. An investment in cultural heritage is an investment in the future. The heritage of our liberation struggle cannot be detached from the current and future generations of Eritrea. It is an intrinsic element of the Eritrean national identity and part of our collective memory. Therefore, it’s the responsibility, mission and duty of every able citizen to contribute towards the preservation and rehabilitation of the foundation of our identity.

These heritages are resources that belong to every Eritrean citizen. Our historical and cultural heritage defines who we are. Our heritage helps us understand where we came from and where are we are heading. Understanding the importance of historical heritage, young Eritreans, including those in the diaspora, are exchanging ideas on what to do and how to preserve the trenches of our liberation struggle. The Nakfa trenches are one body of historical heritage of the Eritrean people and should be preserved, studied and passed on to future generations.

Contributions are expected to flow from various sources such as foundations and individuals who have interest in the conservation of heritage. Donations from Eritreans in the diaspora would be expected to make up the largest share of the contributions. Before looking to external assistance, however, it is advisable to exhaust internal funding to develop our own cultural heritage using our own resources.

The trenches and underground establishments constructed in Nakfa and elsewhere in Sahil extended help to save the life and dream of Eritrean freedom fighters. In the construction of the trenches EPLF fighters were working day and night. They dug out rocks from the mountains using simple tools and carried heavy logs to build the trenches. Through their sweat they built formidable trenches, thereby preserving their lives. The slogan of the fighters at the time was “we preserve our blood by our sweet.”

The length of the trenches is estimated to be around 180 kilometers. In addition to that there are about 1500 underground houses in and around Nakfa. The underground houses demonstrated the commitment, hard work and engineering finesse of the EPLF. The trenches and underground houses have names with telling stories.

Responsible citizens who labored to connect the past with the future are worried about the preservation and rehabilitation of the historic trenches of Nakfa that once maintained the lives and dreams of Eritrean freedom fighters.

The local community and members of the Eritrean defense forces have conducted maintenance and restoration activities at different times. However, the maintenance of the Nakfa trenches as a revolutionary legacy should not be limited to the local people and army units stationed there. To make it an everlasting reference for generations to come, every able citizen in and outside of Eritrea should contribute its share for the conservation and rehabilitation of the trenches.

The Northern Red Sea Museum along with its stakeholders has taken an initiative to do some rehabilitation and conservation work.

What can be done to raise the money needed for the restoration of the trenches? Individuals who join the patriotic youth of Eritrea organized to make Nakfa great again can be charged membership fee. We can also organize special events to raise fund and set stalls at national Eritrean events and festivals here at home and abroad and sell memorabilia to raise money. The Northern Red Sea Museum can take the lead in organizing the events and informing the wider public and the patriotic youth of Eritrea organized to make Nakfa great again about the current condition of the trenches, what should be done and how. The Northern Red Sea Museum has already laid down the general principles for the identification, assessment, documentation, preservation, conservation, and rehabilitation of the Nakfa trenches. As a leading institution, it should intensify efforts to raise people’s awareness about the trenches and the importance of their restoration as a national heritage.

The trenches of the liberation struggle are the signature of the determined and invincible freedom fighters, the martyrs and the veterans. Every nation has its own heritage and distinctive identity. Therefore, to contribute to the preservation and rehabilitation of these trenches that give Eritreans identity and dignity is a great service to the national identity and dignity of Eritrea. Taking care of the greatest legacy of our revolution is the moral responsibility of the present generation. And by participating in the campaign to rehabilitate the trenches, we pay tribute to all the heroes and heroines who took part in the construction of the trenches. So, let us bring together our labor, intellect and financial resources to make Nakfa great again.

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