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Twenty-five years of slavery: Eritrea on crossroads

Asmara ,Eritrea Donkey Cart
Asmara, Eritrea Donkey Cart

Recently my good old friend Adhanom (changed his name for this article) is at Asmara. He went there to be part of the festive on the occasion of the 25th celebration of the downfall of the Derg’s regime, otherwise called ‘an independence day’ by some Eritreans. After 30 years old bitter struggle and death of some 60 thousand rebels, the EPLF, with the strong military and political support of the TPLF (their southern allies) managed to free Asmara and the who of Eritrea from the clutches of the brutal Derge, on May 24, 1991. Four days later the TPLF controlled the whole of Ethiopia in just 17 years of armed struggle which continued to be mentioned as a military miracle of the century in Africa. Adhanom enjoyed the fruits of peace as any other peace-loving citizen of the world in the aftermath of the war. But things were going from bad to worse one the border disputes between the two former allies flare up. My friend served the military for ten years and had to leave the country to Sudan. He had to pay six thousand dollars to the border patrol authorities. Soon he made it to Germany. His current ‘home’ is Bochum. The nostalgic Adhanom was trying to reach his aging parents for years through different channels. Finally, he decided to go there and see them before they are gone for good. He paid all the 2% tax that a real Eritrean diaspora has to pay and flew to Eritrea.
His testimony is shocking. He says it is ‘unbelievable.’ All the post-independence promises are gone with the wind. Asmara is not dying; it is dead! Even the brutal Derge was trying to restore its beauty. The regime was mad with its Italian architecture. After moving his residence from Asmara to Massawa, Eritrea’s first and only dictator seems to forget the city altogether. The buildings are falling apart; the street is in its worst situation. What is more depressing is, according to Adhanom, the people’s situation.  ‘Fear is on the air,’ he would like to say in our short conversation. People don’t want to comment or talk any more. They say, ‘let’s pray for the worst not to come.’ They have lost all their hopes. The ones very ‘proud’ people of Africa are now down not to raise their head again. All because of a totalitarian regime.
Adhanom misses the good old days of the pre-independence era, when Eritreans enjoy the proper attention and care of their Ethiopian counterparts, just to lure them away from the independence question. They had free access to all the universities, which today none existent in the whole Eritrea. The lifetime military service, which is described by many as a modern slavery is frequent to be blamed as the cause of massive migration to Europe. Today Eritrea makes the leading African country and only preceded by Syria and Afghanistan in the world by producing more refugees; this was not the independence Adhanom long waited to see.
Is Eritrea at any worse time now? It is on cross roads. Unless the military and very few concerned bodies end the siege, the country is heading into another Somalia. People has to say enough is enough. The Eritrean people deserves peace just like any other people. They need to see what real freedom looks. It is time to question for false stories, question the false messiah. Challenge the dragons!

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