The new 50 Nakfa note
By Sophia Tesfamariam
The media and the anti-Eritrea groups and “professional dissidents” must be experiencing a dry spell-the main topic for the flying goats today is the Eritrean currency redemption program. The FUDists-those who insist on spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt about Eritrea and its government have now converted from “human rights” and “democracy” activists to economists and currency and market “experts”. Ever since the Government of Eritrea issued the Declaration on 5 November 2015, these “activists” and arm chair quarterbacks, who never bear the brunt of the illicit campaigns conducted from their safe havens in the West, have been offering their unsolicited advice to the people of Eritrea. Speculations about the color of the new currency, the pictures it may or may not have etc. have polluted social media sites and unnecessarily diverted attention from the real issues at hand. The Nakfa, the Eritrean currency has been the subject of their monotonous writings.
The speculations from the flying goats, from the Arabic adage about the goat that remains a goat, even if it flies, often used to refer to people who retain their opinions despite being shown evidence to the contrary, included changes in the size, color, denominations and even the pictures that were going to be used. These can only come from those with disrespect for the Eritrean people and their long and arduous struggle of the people for independence and the even more difficult nation building process that they have been undergoing. The speculations are evidence of the deliberate attempts to undermine the Nakfa the significance of its pictures, size etc. But as with all their past campaigns it’s another effort to thwart Eritrea’s economic development…a futile endeavor.
Instead of educating the public, the flying goats sought to deceive and misinform. They of all people should know that the Government of Eritrea does not conduct business on a whim, that its past actions have been both meticulous and measured. The Nakfa is a national symbol that cannot be tampered with as its production was results of a well though tout process. According to Clarence Holbert, the man who was commissioned to design the Eritrean currency in 1994, there were three conditions that he had to fulfill:
- The currency could not feature a picture of the president or other official of Eritrea.
- The currency could not feature images of war.
- The currency must all be the same size so citizens would be inclined to read the bills’ denominations to determine their value rather than judging it by their size. This was done to increase the literacy rate of the country, which was 20 percent at the time.
After conducting his research, Holbert decided to feature two of the strongest aspects of the country-Eritrea’s women and its rare animals, in the designs of the currency. On the front of each Eritrean bill, Holbert depicted a picture of a common Eritrean woman. Women played an essential role in the battle for Eritrea’s independence, where 30 percent of the freedom fighters in Eritrea’s war for independence were female. The new Nakfa notes do the same…
Unable to finance their own campaigns, living off alms from Ethiopia and its handlers, these “bandwagon activists”, as if they could ever compensate the people for their losses, are now brazenly calling on them to ignore the government’s calls and keep their monies and not deliver them to the banks. So what are the FUDists going to do for those who refuse to comply with a government policy? Campaign for them from their western domiciles? Write petitions to Congress? Get Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International to send letters through their networks? Call of the western government to punish Eritrea and not give it development aid? Eritreans have learned a thing or two about these flying goats and their agendas and will not fall prey to their shenanigans again.
The “Legal Notice No. 124/2015 Legal Tender Nakfa Currency Notes Regulations” spells out the consequences for doing that. It says:
“…All old Nakfa currency notes not surrendered for redemption within the time frame provided for in sub-Articles (1), (2) and (3) hereof, shall be irredeemable and worthless for the purpose of effecting payment…Whosoever intentionally violates the provisions of these Regulations or hinders their implementation shall, upon conviction, be punishable in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Transitional Penal Code of Eritrea…”
Having attacked virtually every institution in Eritrea, now they have resorted to attacking Eritrea’s banking institution. Their tactic today is fear-mongering. These merchants of bad news are unable to respond with hard facts, so they resort to employing scare-mongering to cast a shadow of doubt on Eritrea, its people and its government.
Today, having learned a lesson or two about these “activists’ and their agendas, especially since the release of the Commission of Inquiry’s Report of Eritrea and the many reports produced by the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG), watching the helplessness of Eritrea’s youth in Ethiopia’s holding camps, the Sinai, Libya, Mediterranean and detention and processing camps in western states, Eritreans have learned the hard way, the results of the illicit anti-Eritrea campaigns of the last 15 years. That experience has sparked a deep disquiet amongst the Diaspora and raised their consciousness. The “activists”who were on a high roll back then, are now facing criticism and are being challenged for the inaccurate descriptions of conditions in Eritrea, the lies and distortions.
It is said that there are two kinds of activism:
“…one, principled solidarity with the people affected, pursuing solutions that they themselves define; and two, advocacy for a U.S. (or other western nation) policy response, that frequently defines success in terms of adopting a policy, rather than resolving the situation in the country concerned…”
The activism that the majority of the Eritrean Diaspora engaged in during the struggle for Eritrea’s independence and in post-independence Eritrea aligns closely with those living in Eritrea and responds to the needs of the people there. The one carried out by the FUDists is not.
For example, when the US Commission for Religious Freedom convinced the US State Department to place Eritrea on its list of “Countries of Concern”, it was responding to calls-usually in petitions-signed by unsuspecting American congregations across the Bible Belt. Eritreans found out that there was a campaign against their country-after the fact. There may have been a few disgruntled Eritreans that sought and got assistance to carry out the campaigns, but it was not sanctioned by the people of Eritrea inside the country or in the Diaspora. It was never based on local initiatives by the people of Eritrea and as the evidence has shown, it was one orchestrated by a few “Eritrean Faces” who were employed to carry out the agendas of the fundamentalist evangelical coterie.
So year after year, since 2005, the USCRIF publishes its reports and collects information on Eritrea from petitions and letters written by the fundamentalist networks and their unsuspecting constituencies, which may or may not include a handful of Eritreans. Year after year the US State Department continues to place Eritrea on its shame list. Fortunately, Eritreans in the Diaspora whilst initially incensed by the distortions published have decided that it is best to educate the American public instead of appealing to an organization that refuses to listen to the people.
Back to the currency issue …
Eritrea is not the first nor will it be the last country to institute such currency policy. People hoard currency for many reasons. Hoarding for some is a strategy for achieving personal goals or for dealing with economic uncertainty.Unspent currency means reduced sales, and as sales decline, profits drop, and the total social income decreases, making less money available for consumption. Hoarding induces more hoarding and if it not corrected by timely government policy, it can be detrimental to the economy. The people of Eritrea welcome this government intervention and for the most part, they will comply as they always do-but there will be some that will try to get around the policy and cry foul when caught.
The FUDist will then come in with their next campaign….
The timing of the Eritrean currency redemption program coincides with the United Nations call on nations to go “orange” in the campaign to raise awareness on the issue of violence against women. It is supposed to be a 16-day long campaign. Some nations used orange lighting to illuminate certain structures-a luxury majority of the world’s poor cannot afford. The campaign in Eritrea was different, and the nationwide sensitization programs were holistic and probably more effective than donning orange mass produced T-shirts in a global campaign that only hears the voices of the colorfully clothed activists-and not the real stakeholders. No orange needed in Eritrea. Each Nakfa note bearing the picture of the Eritrean woman is a daily reminder of the cost of the struggle and the Eritrean woman’s unparalleled role in it.
To the naysayers and FUDIsts, the message remains the same-If you cannot wait to put in your two cents worth, at least find truths to spread instead of lies!
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