Written by Osman Makuba
I visited Eritrea six times over the past two years. Prior to my departure for the first time, I had to google information about Eritrea, but what I found in the web was bothersome. I didn’t know anything about Eritrea and became worried about my security and my life. Surprisingly, on every trip, I discovered new realities and slowly, slowly my prejudices faded. I witnessed things that I wasn’t expecting at all. I was surprised to find out that there were no pictures of President Isaias hanging in the streets of Asmara, unusual for someone called a dictator. I also couldn’t find a single soldier carrying a gun in the streets of Asmara on my entire stay. As a foreigner of African origin, and someone who despises the dishonest media and the fool Africans who disseminate their scary tactics and smear campaigns, I became curious and wanted to know a lot about this mysterious, attractive place that the world media continues describing it as the North Korea of Africa.
I found Asmara to be a clean city of about a million inhabitant, safe, full of night life, and with exhibitions of cultural festivities throughout the year. The city’s urban plan illustrates the adjustment of a modern urban planning and classical architect to local Eritrean culture. It is a city that preserved its long history.
I felt impressed by the Eritreans and their leadership. I am very much fascinated by the patriotism of Eritrean people. I have never encountered people so resilient, so proud of their country, identity, and culture. Eritrea has a beautiful landscape with striking mountains and gorgeous beaches.
The impact of the sanctions to the country and to the people was somewhat evident. However, normalization of diplomatic relations with Ethiopia and the removal of UN sanctions have brought substantial peace dividends. Trade has begun to flourish between the two countries and African and International investors are looking for opportunities in Eritrea. Wealthy Eritreans have already began investing in their country, which has attracted a large number of Eritrean d communities in the diaspora. Corruption is a big crime and is not accepted in Eritrea as the country has zero tolerance to corruption policy which is fully implemented.
In the broader region of the horn of Africa, Eritrean leadership was able to launch security and economic cooperation with Somalia and Ethiopia and forged close ties with Sudan and South Sudan. Likewise, Eritrea opened a dialogue with Djibouti to end the conflict.
Eritrean people are bestowed with a leadership that managed to resist the powerful army of Ethiopia, the sanctions and the international isolations that followed. President Isaias, is a man who has devoted his entire life to his people and his country; without his determination, his tenacity and that of his people, Eritrea would have been re-colonized again. The unity of his people and their bravery is what saved Eritrea from the aggression of TPLF in late 90’s.
He is the only African President that I know who lives a simple life. He does not have a habit of a lavish life style as many African Head of States do. He is smart, strategic, a hard worker and a no nonsense man. Even with the persistent ongoing smear campaign against him, he is cherished by his people and only hated by those who serve the interest of the enemy of Eritrea. You could see Isaias routinely walking in the streets of Asmara, greeting people and hugging children without any security details.
Unless he is receiving cabinet members or foreign visitors or dignitaries, President Isaias routinely monitors ongoing developmental projects. Politically Eritrea has endorsed a policy of self- reliance, which is a comprehensive strategy aimed at rejecting dependence from international donors. The country has embarked into ambitious plans that will bring prosperity to the country soon. Many irrigation dams have been built around the country to ensure water security. The plan to attain food security is on target; Eritrea does not import food from overseas. Agriculture and livestock experiments are ongoing to improve the quality and the yield of meat and milk productions. The government is implementing economic, social and political reforms that will turn the country into one of the most developed countries in Africa in less than a decade.
In Eritrea over 97% of the population are reported to have access to primary health care services (defined as being with 10 km of a health facility). Government offers health services to the citizens for free; these include, but not limited to immunization, child health, reproductive health program, environmental health, health education and community health. Under Isaias leadership, Eritrean was able to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDG) two years before the dateline of 2015.
Eritrea is a multi-ethnic, multi-language and multi-religion country; the state of Eritrea has embraced a harmonious coexistence of these multiplicity and has successfully managed ethnic diversity. There is no discrimination against anyone based on language or religion or ethnicity. The cultural diversity is cherished and celebrated. This is entrenched in Eritrea’s education system which involves creating a united, prosperous, and peaceful Eritrea. The government has made tremendous efforts to consolidate national identity and unity, promote social progress, and inculcate tolerance and human right values.
Unfortunately, great African leaders are constantly threatened. History showed how Lumumba was assassinated and replaced by a Western puppet. No colonial mind can accept the Eritrean patriotism that is instilled in their political maturity. The ongoing demonization campaign against Isaias and Eritrea defines the true color of those who use misguided human rights issues as a political tool to destabilize the country. Eritreans are proud people, and won’t tolerate external interventions.
I am very optimistic of the future of Eritrea and it saddens me when I see foreign puppets spreading fake rumors about Eritrea and the leaders of Eritrea. The enemy of Eritrea will continue to spread scary news about Isaias, but his loyalty to the country, his tenacity and his patriotic nature will defeat them. I am very honored and lucky to know Eritrea and its leadership, thanks to those who were responsible to introduce me to this beautiful country and its wonderful people.
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