Every year on May 24th Independence Day, we usually see the popular Time Magazine quote from 1998 posted on every social media outlet by Eritreans feeling patriotic for the moment. The quote itself is powerful, and it definitely expresses the sentiment of the Eritrean struggle but the particular “secessionist province” line is historically inaccurate and every year I have to always remind people why.
Zanzibar revolutionary Abdul Rahman Mohamed Babu in 1985 wrote the following of Eritrea & correctly understood our struggle. He visited Eritrea and firsthand observed the struggle for Independence was never a secessionists struggle nor was it a civil war but anti-colonial in the genuine sense.
Over the years, I have seen unprofessional and lazy journalist coverage of Eritrea. You can tell which journalists have not done a sincere job in researching the history when they describe Eritrea with the following words: “Seceded” “Former province” “Gained Independence from”. When journalists present the “seceded” “former province” description they are legitimizing inaccurate historical narrative of the Ethiopian settler state which is outright disregarding basic facts Eritrea never seceded it won its independence rightfully. Ethiopia as an entity is a recent European creation & to imply Eritrea seceded is to imply that Eritrea was part of the entity initially. Eritrea freed itself from the Europe-Abyssinian created settler state! The Eritrean struggle against the Abyssinian settler state wasn’t secessionist nor was Eritrea a province by legal or historical measures it was an anti-colonial struggle against a European-created African settler state. Buzzwords such as “civil war” “secessionist” enforce ideas of the fictionalize Greater Ethiopia myth.
To this day people’s understanding of Eritrea is through Ethiopian lenses rather than re-learning the Eritrean struggle as anti-colonial at its root. Eritrea is a unique case in which it fought, resisted, and defeated European colonialism by proxy against its own Ethiopian settler state.