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Random Thoughts and Musings

*Note: the following is a collection of brief thoughts on recent happenings and issues related to Eritrea.

  • 1. On the fact that peace is a continuous process, not a solitary event…

Two short years ago, in July 2018, Eritrean President IsaiasAfwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed signed the Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship, in Asmara.

While they were bold, courageous, and visionary, in addition to catching many people by sheer surprise, it must be understood that the initiatives taken by the two leaders and governments were only the first initial steps in what is a long and difficult road. Without wanting to downplay the undoubted importance of the agreements, peace is not a solitary event and it does not arise from the act of putting pen to paper. Nor can peace simply be seen as the absence of violence. Rather, peace is difficult and hard, in addition to being complex, dynamic, and inclusive. It is a continuous process that requires constant cultivation and may necessitate a long period of time and effort before its true benefits are realized.

In that light, we should all recognize and readily expect that there will be many, many immense challenges ahead and much considerable work will have to be completed. Of course, the smooth implementation of all key pillars of the agreement has not progressed with the desired pace. . Here we should also not forget that several negative elements and forces (albeit small in number) have and are actively working to counter the positive developments.

However, the fact that the road will be long and despite the bumps that may be encountered, does not mean should not dampen our determination to push for higher results with more vigoour. This is guaranteed, in some ways, by the reservoir of political good will that prevalent in both countries. In reality, As put by that great giant of peace and justice, Martin Luther King, Jr., “We must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools.”

  • 2. On how positive it is to see Eritreans coming together…

The recent article by Simon Weldemichael, “The Invaluable Lessons of Covid-19”, presented many useful insights and raised a number ofquestionsworth pondering in relation to the local and global Covid-19 situation.To date, our country has recorded a little over 200 confirmed cases, with no deaths, thankfully. In addition to some of the key factors pointed out by Simon,an important dimension of thenational response to Covid-19in Eritrea has been the great professionalism, generosity,selflessness, and dedicationthat have been demonstrated by so many Eritreans, both here at home and across the world.As with our longbattle for liberation, the bitter fight to maintain our territorial independence and sovereignty, and the struggle against international sanctions, Eritreans of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds have come togetherin unity to fight Covid-19 and to ensure that no one is left behind.

From here on the ground in Eritrea, ithas been deeplytouching and extremely inspiring to observe. It makes one absolutely proud of the people and it serves as a great reminder of the goodness of humanity. Moving forward, as our nation carries on what will likely be an extended battleagainst Covid-19 and also seeks to overcome the various related issues and challenges that will arise (such as economic), it will be vital for Eritreansto remain united, stay vigilant, and continue their great generosity.

  • 3.On how a local television program is confronting important social issues…

If you have not yet had the chance to do so, I would recommend that you tune in to the local comedy show, “EndaZemam”. Fresh episodes of the show regularly air on EriTV during Sunday afternoons, with reruns usually availableon different days throughout the week.The show,basically centered upon a local café and the eventful lives of its diverse group of employees and regular customers, is highly entertaining and generally very funny. In addition, however, the program is also unique for broaching and confronting important social issuesthat are apparent in our country.

For instance, past episodes of the show have focused on divorce and challenges with employment. During the last episode of the show, which aired last week,the spotlight was shoneon domestic violence and gender stratification. To briefly recap, one of the female characters, an unfortunate victim of domestic violence, sought to address the problem through turning to a traditional form of resolution, called shemagelle, which can be generally understood asa type of“council of elders”. Some of her coworkers, however, regarded the shemagelle process as being plagued by a significant problem: it was comprised of all men, thereforeoverlooking the important views and perspectives of women. Feeling more than a little frustrated and disappointed with the situation, the coworkerspushed for the inclusion of womenin the shemagelleprocess. In the end, the issue was satisfactorily resolved and there was the proverbial “happily ever after” ending– all due to the traditional shemagelle process, with the added progressive twist of women being included.

To be certain, the topics raised in the last episode of “EndaZemam”, domestic violence and gender stratification, are not trivial or minor. Domestic violence, which involves a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors perpetrated by intimate partners and other family members, is a global problem. It is present in every country and occurs in all settings, cutting across boundaries of culture, religion, class, education, income, ethnicity, and age. Around the world, domestic violence represents a significant socio-economic, health, and development issue, while it is also widely recognized as a grave violation of fundamental and basic human rights. Similarly, gender stratification, basically defined as males’ and females’ unequal access to property, power, and prestige, is a significant problem and it isreadily apparent in all societies around the world. Notably, the fundamental significance of gender equality is reflected in the fact that it is one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, which are a global set of goals for all countries – low-, middle-, and high-income – to meet by 2030.

Here in Eritrea, despite substantial progress and noticeable improvements, domestic violence and gender stratification can unfortunately still be found. Rather than simply dismissing these issues, however, it is crucial that they continue tobe openly discussedandconfronted. Well done and two thumbs up to the creators and producers of “EndaZemam” who have not just delivered a highly entertaining and extremely funny show, but also helped to shinea critical light on some of the important social issuesaffecting our country.

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