Hands off Eritrea!
Hands off Eritrea!
By Bereket Kidane
Awet-n-Hafash! was a slogan that was used for generations to rally the Eritrean public to the cause of independence and nationhood. Its power and resonance with the Eritrean public was immediate and long lasting. The phrase Awet-n-Hafash is still prominent and is regularly seen on Eritrean television, newspapers, every patriotic article that’s ever been penned by an Eritrean and, of course, wherever there is a gathering of Eritreans for a patriotic event or a national public holiday. The phrase is magic to an Eritrean, perhaps only to be eclipsed by the equally awe-inspiring motto that evokes immediate pride and a debt of gratitude, “Zelealemawi Zikri n Swuatna.”
The two phrases have had staying power because of their true resonance with the Eritrean public. One suspects that the sovereign nation of Eritrea will always be around so long as the two phrases are being uttered by Eritreans. What’s in the motto? Well, you have to be an Eritrean to understand that.
A new patriotic slogan was born last week in reaction to Mike Smith’s and Sheila Ketharruth’s fabricated, baseless charges against the State of Eritrea in Geneva: HANDS OFF ERITREA!
It caught on like wildfire through cyberspace. Twitter was ablaze and the blogoshphere was lit with “Hand Off Eritrea” messages. A young, attractive Eritrean with model looks wearing Dolce &Gabanna looking sunglasses was photographed holding that sign on a street corner in Geneva. She became the face of the “hands off Eritrea” campaign overnight.
One hopes that Hands off Eritrea doesn’t have the staying power that Awet-n-Hafash has had because that would mean that Eritreans will be fighting bogus, unfounded UN charges for a long time. The slogan “Hands off Eritrea” perfectly sums up how angry Eritreans are feeling these days by the continuous, baseless, obsessive, guilty without due process treatment Eritrea is receiving at the hands of UN bodies.
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