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amuel Ghebhrehiwet admired the glamorous photo of the Eritrean freedom fighters

Eritrea is formally marking 30 years of independence from Ethiopia. Former BBC Tigrinya editor Samuel Ghebhrehiwet was a soldier who fought for independence. He writes about his experiences on the battlefield, and how hopes have been dashed as Eritrea became a repressive one-party state.

short presentational grey line

all the way through our 30-12 months armed combat for independence, we lived with battle every hour of every day.

We acquired used to pain and sacrifice. Many people have been wounded two or thrice throughout fighting. We had been at once patched up and marched into extra battles.

I still ask yourself how we managed to cowl ground from Qarora – the northern tip of Eritrea – to Dumeira – the southern tip – sound asleep in trenches and hiking every mountain and valley. I used to be among the fortunate ones. About sixty five,000 of our opponents died in combat.

I joined the liberation military as a sixteen-yr-old in 1982 after hearing memories about Ethiopian aggression and jealous of the glamorous picture of the freedom fighters with their long hair, shorts and AK47s.

I bought a few months of training in the Arag valley. We discovered the way to attack and retreat, how to camouflage ourselves, and the way to use weapons – including grenades and RPGs.

Samuel Ghebhrehiwet, pictured right here in 2008, hoped he changed into fighting for a much better Eritrea

Our practicing changed into respectable. It changed into backed up by way of political training, together with how we would establish a democratic executive.

i was involved in a large number of battles, culminating with the liberation of the port metropolis of Massawa in the Fenqel operation of February 1990. That operation become decisive. It put a stranglehold on the Ethiopian defense force’s actions, and in the end pressured them out of Eritrea.

We fought severe battles for seventy two hours to capture this strategic metropolis, and we then defended it for more than a year with 100km-lengthy trenches. In these battles, I suffered shrapnel wounds to my head and hand. I was treated in health center. After i was discharged I lower back to the battlefield.

in opposition t the conclusion of the Nineteen Nineties i was sent to be a part of the cultural community to increase the morale of our military with innovative songs and dramas. In 1991, we had been on Dahlak Island, near Massawa, after we heard the greatest information of our lives – we had eventually performed our independence.

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Days of get together

full of pleasure, we travelled with the aid of boat to Massawa. We were then loaded on to lorries to move to the capital, Asmara – a adventure that took about three hours. We crossed the Ethiopian military’s southern checkpoint. It become unmanned, the Ethiopian troopers had deserted it.

There turned into a dreamlike ambiance in Asmara. People in the metropolis dropped everything to welcome the independence opponents. They broke into impromptu “guayla” (usual tune and dance) on the streets of the capital, as well as other towns and villages.

there have been extra celebrations in 1993 after a referendum formalised independence

before that momentous day, the individuals of Asmara have been totally besieged. The airport changed into at all times being bombed, there became a strict curfew. Then on 24 may additionally every thing modified.

moms abandoned earthen pots on their “fernello” (coal stoves); forgot the hearth in the “mogogo” (ovens) and walked out on their espresso rituals to be part of the welcome birthday celebration.

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US Female Soldier Then I Heard The Voice Of The Lord Saying Whom Shall I Send Poster

people carrying palm leaves, which are often utilized in celebrations, invaded the streets – every palm tree was stripped. The kids climbed onto the tanks that rolled in and waved their palm leaves.

Reminders of the battle remain littered across Eritrea

The celebrations went on for days and nights.

There become much anxiety amid the euphoria as there have been many parents out within the streets with photo frames of their hands. They have been asking the coming opponents in regards to the whereabouts of their babies.

 

 

 

 

 

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