Remembering the forgotten Eritrean nationalists of the 1950s .


compiled and researched by Resoum Kidane 30/082018

Although the ELF and EPLF leaders tried to persuade the public, through commemoration of the armed struggle for national liberation, that the Eritrean struggle, was started on 1st of September 1961 by the ELF every year on 1st September, the struggle for independence goes back to the flourishing of the Eritrean political parties in the 1940s, and in the 1950s.
This is confirmed by Ato Woldab’s  hand-written letter in 1984, in which he writes: “The struggle started in 1942 not in 1961[as others claim] the 1961 phase was just a continuation of the previous phase[1941-1961] that had been in the political arena. We should not forget that it nevertheless formed a crucial part parcel of what follow subsequently [Woldab Woldemariam: A visionary Eritrean Patriot, a biography page 11]

In 1960 the ELF was founded in competition with the ELM. He split from Muslim League and joined the Unionist camp towards the end of 1940s, and became president of Eritrean parliament from 1955 until he was forced to resign from his post in 1959. The EPLF was also founded by Osaman S. Sabbe and Issayas in a power competition with the leaders of the ELF in the early 1970s.  Even though the ELF leaders claimed that the ELF was the mother of the Eritrean revolution and the EPLF leaders also claimed that the EPLF was far more progressive than its mother organization, neither the ELF nor EPLF were founded by leaders genuinely committed to the national interest. The only genuine and progressive liberation movement in the history of the Eritrean people struggle was the Eritrean Liberation Movement whose founders believed in the principle “Muslims and Christians are brothers, and their unity makes Eritrea one

For a brief period the ELM played a significant role in uniting the Eritrean Muslims and Christians, Highlanders and Lowlanders. However this was interrupted when the ELM became target of the ELF leaders which led to its disintegration in 1965. Following the liquidation of the military wing of the ELM, many its members joined the ELF without trying to revitalize its organization.  The Supreme Council of the ELF leadership instead of working for the unity of the Eritrean Liberation Army deliberately divided the Eritrean Liberation Army by region and ethnicity through establishing five military zones based on a territorial division which caused the ELF split into three factions:  PLF Sduha Eyla Group 1, the Self Natsenet of Ala Group 2 and Obel Group 3.

Additionally, in 1970 when Kidne Kiflue was assassinated by the ELF, most of the former members of ELM also left the ELF and joined to the EPLF. Among them was Martyred Wolderefuel Sebhatu who played a great role in politicising and raising national consciousness for the EPLF fighters who had joined to the Front in1975.
I would dare to say that in 1991 the Eritrea independence was not only achieved through the military victory led the EPLF but also   through was contribution of the ELM’s members who played a great role in the rebirth of Eritrean nationalism through uniting Eritrean Muslim and Christian, Highlander and Lowlander which left a legacy for the EPLF to be a united national force not like ELF be divided by region or religion which has left a legacy to the opposition leaders. During the 30 years of the armed struggle religion and ethnicity were exploited by the former ELF revolutionary leaders to try come to power. And today the opposition leaders still use this tactic for sake of gaining power  

By and large the ELF was founded on fostered religious antagonism and fanned backward differences and sentiments, of a regional and ethnic nature which greatly contributed to internal division in the Front’s leadership between sectarian such as Abdella Idris and secular like Ahmed Nasir. The rift among the opposition group leaders did not begin when the EDA split in 2007, but has its roots going back to the era of the liberation struggle in 1960s.

Since 1991 the opposition has had more opportunity to resolve their differences and to exploit the rift which occurred between the G15 and Issayas in 2001.   However the leadership crisis (power struggle) which existed mainly within the ELF in the 1970s has left its mark on the current opposition leaders. Over the last 25 years, they have become the main obstacle for removing the Afeworki dictatorship. In the early 2000s, Seyoum Ogbamichael walking out from the meeting of 5th regular meeting of the Alliance of Eritrean  National Forces ENA because of Hirui was elected to the position of Secretary General of the ENA  in October 2002.when the Afeworki  regime severely restricted freedom of speech and press

Regarding this Sadia Ali (2003) asked  how on Earth they (ELF.RC) could speak about their
opposition to the dictatorial regime in Eritrea when they walk out from the ENA 5th regular session.

In 2007 when the Eritrean people were urging the opposition leaders (EDA) to remove the authoritarian regime in Asmara without further delay, the opposition leaders responded, due to their internal power struggle by splitting into two blocs Regarding this Yohannes Ligiam [13.03.07] stated that since 1993, Eritrean people abroad and inside hoped that the opposition will grow and mature politically and will replace the dictatorship that has denied them opportunity, stability and democracy.
Instead of maturity and coherence the opposition has  been afflicted by further fragmentation and had ended up by being part of the problem instead of a solution.

 During the liberation struggle many innocent liberation fighters and civilians also became victims of the former revolutionary leaders who are currently serving in the Eritrean government or in the Opposition. The opposition leaders are not innocent of crimes. They like the PFDJ leaders whom they are accusing of committing crimes against the Eritrean people since 1991 are also guilty
 Generally the opposition leaders themselves have contributed to some extent to the prolonging Issayas clinging to power by prioritising their organisational interests rather than liberate the Eritrean people from the ruthless PFDJ. This has given a good opportunity for Issayas to try to establish a confederation between Eritrea and Ethiopia which was proposed in 1993. This had been a surprise for most EPLF fighters in 1993.

Regarding to the proposal for the establishment of a confederation between Eritrea and Ethiopia, Mesfin Hagos who was Eritrean defence ministry in1993 and Tamrat Lyna  who was  Prime Minister of the Transitional Government  in Ethiopia 1991-1995,  both have mentioned briefly in their recent interviews  the proposal of the confederation  For further reference here are the links of their  interviews .

  1. “ኢሳያስ፡ ኣብ ፈለማ 91 ንገለ ካብ ማእከላይ ሽማግለ ህ.ግ. ጸዊዑ፣ ‘ምስ ወያነ(ኢህወደግ) ናይ ሓባር መንግስቲ ከነቕውም ዝብል ጉዳይ ኣሎ፡ ተሰማሚዕና’ውን ኢና።’ ኢሉና ነይሩ።” መስፍን ሓጎስ Pt 1

  2. የቀድሞ ጠቅላይ ሚንስትር ታምራት ላይኔ ኢትዮጵያና እና ኤርትራን አስመልክቶ ያወጡት ሚስጥር  Ethiopia history

  3. በኢትዮጵያና በኤርትራ ሰላም ጉዳይ - ሻለቃ ዳዊት ወልደጊዮርጊ

  4. Eritrea-Ethiopia: A Confederation We Didn’t Vote On

  5. Are Ethiopia and Eritrea moving towards federation?

  6. “ድሕሪ ናጽነት ኤርትራ፡ ከም በዓል ናይዝጊ ክፍሉ ዝበሉ ሓለፍቲ እናተላእኩ ጉዳይ ትግራይ ትግርኚ ክንቅበል ይሓቱና ነይሮም እዮም።” መለስ ዜናዊ ን ዓብደላ ኣደም ካብ ዝበሎ

  7. It is time for all Eritrean Youth who are victims of Issayas as well as of the opposition group leaders to revive the 1950s Youth movement's experience and to keep alive the principle of Haraka “Muslims and Christian are brothers, and their unity makes Eritrea one “to speed up the removal of the current fascistic dictator.  
    Hope the youth will learn something positive from this compilation.

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