In the Eritrean calendar, no day is more significant than the 24th of May, the day Eritrea’s independence was realized in 1991. After thirty years of a bloody war of liberation, Eritreans, under the leadership of the EPLF, proclaimed to the world that they liberated their homeland from Ethiopian colonization and emerged as a newly born sovereign nation.
I was a toddler when Eritrea joined the community of free nations. The post-independence generation of youth, like me, did not have personal experience of the struggle for independence. We humbly thank the heroes and heroines who gave us an independent country. Eritrea’s independence will be protected by the collective resistance of the old and young generations. The Eritrean society has paid more than 85 thousand martyrs to achieve and maintain independence. The noble message of our martyrs is written in the hearts and minds of our young so that they never forget the price paid for our freedom.
Eritrean martyrs pledged to give their lives and fortunes for future generations of Eritrea who deserve to live in an independent country. On the occasion of Independence Day, Eritreans remember and renew that pledge to preserve Eritrea’s sovereignty and work for their nation’s development. The Eritrean youth engage in national development projects and defend the country from aggressors. The political consciousness and moral courage of the people is incredibly high. They are all aware of their shared responsibilities and know what unites them together.
As we celebrate the birth of our country, we are grateful to the heroes and heroines who have bled and died for this nation. As the torch of independence has been passed to us, we shoulder the responsibility to live up to the expectations of our martyrs and pass on the torch to the next generation.
Every time I visit the trenches of Nakfa and walk through the canals that provided shelter to the freedom fighters, I imagine taking on the role of freedom fighters living under the trenches for decades. I imagine a museum, to immortalize our national heroes as the legacy of our predecessors who gave their lives to make us an independent and confident political community. As daughters and sons of our predecessors, we are proud of the unique journey of our country and we are toiling to fulfil the dream of our parents.
The celebration of our Independence Day is a good time for the youth to revisit and understand the past and envision the future. It is very important for the youth to understand Eritrea’s history of struggle for independence and the post-independence complications. The Eritrean youth need to learn more about the arduous and multi-faceted hostilities from reliable sources with solid credentials. For two weeks before Independence Day, I stayed in the historic town of Nakfa to undertake some work. I met many people of various professions and experiences.
- Here are the views of some of the young professionals about Independence Day.
“I am Musa Mohammed Said and work at the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students (NUEYS)’s branch at the College of Hamelmalo Agricultural College. For me, Independence is the greatest gift, an opportunity, and a challenge. It’s a gift because it’s given to us by our forefathers after 50 years of political and armed struggle. And it’s an opportunity because it gives the youth the necessary peace and stability to discover our potential. Independence is also a challenge because it’s acquired and maintained through incredibly heavy prices. Knowing the price of independence, we, the youth of today, are ready to defend our independence.”
“My name is Milen Dawit, a graduate of Law School and now working at the Ministry of Justice. As a young woman lawyer, Independence means a lot to me. Independence is a precondition for the prevalence of justice in a society. Our freedom is precious, and we must not take it for granted. I can say Independence is a light that pushed away the darkness. It helps us to see where we stand, the way we ought to travel and see our vision. Independence enables me to pave my way, chart my goal and envision a bright future. I understand the price of Independence very well.”
“My name is Hagos Milkyas. The independence of Eritrea is the greatest asset of the Eritrean people who have struggled and sacrificed for its realization. Eritrea’s Independence is unique in that it’s of the people, by the people and for the people of Eritrea. The foundation of our Independence is strong and it’s been tested. Our Independence is the symbol of unity, strength and confidence.”
“I am Teame Negasi, working at the Ministry of Education in Segeneiti Subzone. Our Independence is the outcome of the consistent struggle of successive generations against European and African colonization. During the celebration of Independence Day, I always remember the heavy sacrifices we paid before and after 1991 to have a free and sovereign country of our own. As an educator, I have the responsibility to convey to the upcoming generation the history of our struggle for Independence and the history of resistance to maintain it.”
“My name is Azekya Alfeyo Nati, working at the Ministry of Agriculture in Barentu. Remembering the immeasurable crimes against humanity perpetrated against our society, I believe that Independence is a gift of our martyrs that saved us from extinction. On this day of joy we will always remember the atrocity, imprisonment, displacement, indiscriminate killing and destruction committed against our people. Independence is an important ingredient needed for the development, safety and dignity of human beings.”
“My name is Michael Berhe, an IT specialist at NUEYS. For me, Independence is more than the liberation of the land from the occupation of the enemy. It relieves the people from the mental and physical burden of colonization. It impacts positively the state of mind and creates internal and external peace. A country that lacks independence cannot become home to its citizens. Independence enables us to make our choices and live a dignified life. Independence is a way that leads us to social justice, economic prosperity, political stability and human development.”