The Eritreans and Ethiopians who are board members of the Ethiopian Friendship Forum (EEFF) are pacemakers. These peacemakers like Mr. Berhane G. Negus, the late Ato Fecado Lijam, Mr. Yosuf Yassin and their colleagues in the Forum have to be commended for their efforts, vision and relevant ideas. The Bible calls the peace makers like this: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God” (Matthew 5:6 NKJV). This is because God is a God of peace. Since these Ethiopian and Eritrean peacemakers are on the side of truth and peace, no one can challenge and oppose them.
Myself, I was born in Eritrea from an Eritrean parents. Since the age of four I was raised, educated, and worked in Ethiopia as an Ethiopian. There are thousands of Eritreans who did go through the same experiences like me in Ethiopia. I cannot hate Ethiopia nor the Ethiopian people. I rather want to believe that I love the Ethiopian people. This is because I was raised as an Ethiopian. The Ethiopian people gave me scholarships to complete my high school and university education and enabled me to complete a professional degree. I grew up drinking the milk and water of Ethiopia, if you will. I spent my earlier professional life in Ethiopia. I have had Ethiopia friends and colleagues and developed intimate relations in that country. So no one should feel negative against me if I say I love the Ethiopian people. I have more fond and happy memories of Ethiopia than I have bad memories. I wish peaceful coexistence between Eritrea and Ethiopia so that people can reap the benefits of peaceful cooperation between the two countries.
Eritreans and Ethiopians had past experiences of living in close relationships coexisting together. The peoples have more commonalities than differences. Of course, the past successive and repressive regimes of Haile Selassie I and the Military government (the Derg) have contributed to the sowing of hate and resentments among the people through ruthless wars and propaganda machines for many years. The Ethiopian and Eritrean people have a role to play in repairing these past damages done through peace and reconciliation. Politics cannot discourage us. Aimless nationalism cannot divide us. Only the willingness of the people of the two countries can bring peace to the counties. Let us get out of the web of hate, resentment, un-forgiveness, and aimless nationalism and heal our people through peace so that a proper foundation can be laid for the benefits of our future generation. Only through peace these benefits can be assured. Peace is the only solution
We could not pass without mentioning some positive signs from the Ethiopian side. More than one time Ethiopia recently has shown overtures for peace towards the Eritrean people by helping Eritrean refugees. Ethiopia is helping thousands of these refugees by offering them sanctuaries and allowing some to work in the local areas and study in Ethiopian universities and colleges. Leaving politics aside, many of the Eritrean Opposition parties working towards democratic change have been offered by Ethiopia to open their head and branch offices in Addis Ababa and regularly make Addis as their venue for their congresses and meetings. I also believe these are signs of goodwill from the Ethiopian side and will contribute to a better understanding between the two people of the two countries by instilling a tangible hope for a future democratic Eritrea.
Peace is the only way for national and regional economic development and mutual cooperation. Peace must be our future to look forward to not war and hate mongering. Let us open up to each other. The future of the two countries will be bright and the peace of the region could also be maintained. We will be winners and not losers. Let us give peace a chance.
We can learn from what happened in South Africa. Nelson Mandela, the South African statesman and Nobel Prize winner for peace is a well-known peacemaker. Mandela, after sacrificing 30 percent of his earthly life (29 years in apartheid system prison), he was released from prison and he was elected to be the first black president of South Africa. Through his Peace and Reconciliation Commission he united the people of South Africa (Black, White, Asians and Coloured). I used to work with the United Nations near South Africa and I had the opportunity to travel through South Africa as a tourist and have witnessed the evils of apartheid system by dividing the people and sowing the seeds of hatred and resentment among its people. South African people are now on the path of peaceful coexistence, democratic governance, and economic development. In fact, South African presidents have become peace-brokers in Africa (i. e. a case in point in Zimbabwe, Cote D’voire, recently in Libya and South Sudan). Why? Because they have learned that peace is the only win-win solution. We have to learn from history not to repeat its negative part.
Dr. Berhane Abraha