It is a curious suggestion that, “…the only time in our history we Eritreans openly and freely discussed the future of our nation publicly was during the British Administration or pre-1952.” (Let the Dialogue Begin: A Passionate Call to ‘Eritrean Intellectuals’) This is a sad recollection of our most recent past. Undoubtedly this suggests that the author (and more broadly those who did not participate in the constitutional congress) ignore the key to representative governance, and at its heart democracy.
Ironically this comes on the eve of the President’s congratulatory statement to the President-Elect of the United States, Barack Obama. The key to representative governance is that to have a voice you have to show up. During the whirlwind years after independence until roughly 1995 Eritreans from all over the world participated in a constitutional congress. From the United States, Europe, Canada and Asia came representatives of the Eritrean Diaspora to develop an entirely homegrown political system.
To know this, and ignore it, while embracing a political system that was forced upon Eritreans is at best an error or at worst a farce. The political system and agenda of Eritreans of all nationalities in the 1950’s was imposed and largely ignored. Further, to advocate the Eritrean agenda (the Independence agenda) was to risk assassination by the Imperialists. Complicit of course are the foreign (Ethiopian, British, or American) powers; the recent declassification of diplomatic wires serve as verification.
It is no wonder why today Eritreans the world over are hesitant of international intervention in domestic issues (either ours or others). What is difficult to understand however, is how some seem to cling to the Federation’s perceived political plurality? Such openness did not exist but the claim is interesting as it may serve as a clue to ones’ intention.
The implication is that Eritrean politicos were better off under Ethiopian administration than native administration. Further, it also suggests that one did not recognize the importance of the constitutional congress mentioned above worse yet; it shows ignorance about recent developments. This should be taken into account, as the proverbial grain of salt, although in this particular case it makes the argument inedible.