President Isaias: Eritrea’s Rock of Gibraltar
H.E. President Isaias Afwerki in New York City, 2011
By Bereket Kidane
A European ambassador posted to Asmara recently told the BBC that President Isaias Afewerki was the only African leader who cares about his people. Eritreans have always known that and that is why they continue to stand by him. President Isaias has been as solid and strong as the Rock of Gibraltar for his nation. Two weeks ago, some 10,000 plus impassioned Eritreans descended on Geneva from all corners of Europe and beyond to express their support for the Eritrean State and its “Rock.” It did not go unnoticed by the Western media. The West has always had an insatiable appetite for destroying resource-rich and strategically located countries on this earth using various pretexts. We have seen what happened in Iraq, Libya and other places.
The Rock of Gibraltar simply known as “the Rock” is a tall monolithic limestone promontory located in the southern entrance to the Mediterranean. It is a British overseas territory even though it borders Spain. British people sometimes use the phrase “like the Rock of Gibraltar” to talk about something that is so solid and strong that it will never break or be destroyed. Like that old Prudential Securities advert used to say, “In times of turbulence and crisis in the sea, people run to the rock for safety.”
In Luke 6:48, the holy Bible tells us, “He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid his foundation on the rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it because it was well-built.” Indeed, that verse is an apt description of the man who is considered the father of Eritrea and continues to work hard to strengthen its foundation alongside his countrymen even in his advanced age.
In the last 25 years, the State of Eritrea has had to overcome a tremendous number of obstacles that were designed to cripple its economy and reverse its sovereignty. The cumulative weight of those existential challenges would have broken a lesser leader or people. But the rock has skillfully guided his nation through its early vulnerable years.
A Horn of Africa expert with the International Crisis Group, Cedric Barnes, recently expressed his surprise by the turn of luck for the Eritrean State opining that Eritrea is considerably stronger now than it had been just a few years ago. Apparently Mr. Barnes must not be familiar with Branch Rickey’s famous saying: “Luck is the residue of design” or that old credo: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” That President Isaias is a man who works hard and spends every moment of his waking hour to solve his country’s problems is recognized by all Eritreans. Most true blue Eritreans know that because President Isaias likes to work hard, he wants all his countrymen to work hard and sacrifice today so that future generations can enjoy a higher standard of living. Even in his advanced age, he can be seen in three different parts of the country on the same day inspecting projects, encouraging the locals and listening to their concerns, and consulting with members of the defense forces. For this, he gets called names? Since when is hard work and sacrifice for the benefit of posterity considered a crime? Since when is extended military service in defense of sovereignty considered slavery?
Even though President Isaias is one of the longest serving African heads of state, he is the poorest of them all. He is simply not interested in the “palace lifestyle” or lining his pockets at the expense of the state. He has never been about that.
The pile of rubbish that Mike Smith’s COI came up with by interviewing faceless and anonymous accusers seeking asylum in the West was surprisingly described by Eric Richardson, the American diplomat to UN Human Rights Council, as “Not precise” and “Not sophisticated.” Not precise is a polite way of saying “Inaccurate.” The words accuracy and precision are often used interchangeably. Not sophisticated is diplo speak for “flawed’ or not compiled with commonly accepted standards of research to ensure the report is fair and free of bias. In short, not precise and not sophisticated essentially means the report is crap. As such, it belongs in the trash bin.
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