Just before September 1st, the eve of the holiday commemorating the Eritrean armed struggle for independence, hundreds of youth attended the fourth annual conference on Eritrea and its youth in the Diaspora.
Eritrea’s Greatest Generation was the forefathers who fought for independence; together, they simultaneously staved off the geo-strategic objectives of the Cold War’s superpowers, and forged a national identity based on solidarity and unity in diversity. This inclusive political and social justice agenda emphasizes the rights of minorities and equality of women; while promoting education and rights for all.
Nearly forty years later, this agenda continues to resonate with Eritreans everywhere, especially the Eritrean youth of the Diaspora. As the next generation, Eritrean youth in the Diaspora are steadfastly organizing to carry the torch of their forefathers.
This year’s conference was by far the best, with the seminars led by Mr. Yemane Gebreab, an Eritrean government representative. In the tradition of the struggle, Mr. Yemane preferred we refer to him in revolutionary style, lending a relaxed atmosphere to his seminar, removing any sense of pretense.
Over the course of four days, Mr. Yemane, spoke with the youth, with at least a fifth of this time spent answering our questions. During this session the assembled group asked many pointed questions with responses and explanations that showed a cogent analytical framework and reasoning.
Of particular interest was the fact that between this and the last conference there has been a renewed interest in strengthening our national identity — not just in the political sense, but the cultural sense as well. Although this is challenging in a society with numerous nationalities, it seems to be aimed at each equally.
The most important message of this conference however, seemed to be aimed at the youth, and just as importantly at those who observed from afar. The time is now! Not only are the youth on the rise, not only is it their destiny, but it is the desire of the Greatest Generation to accommodate the voice of the next generation and to let them lead.
Though the Greatest Generation brought us Independence, it is the next generation’s task to protect it. This, Yemane said, is a significant challenge and will require fortitude and robust internal analysis, and so each youth must develop themselves mentally, just as they would physically for any other struggle. With this mission, the assembled launched on their mission, renewed.