Few weeks ago, I had a visit to a village which is roughly 6 miles North Eastern from the capital Asmara, in Eritrea. Though the trip was taken in sunny and windy daytime and so did performed on foot, all the impressions I have from it is just worth explaining. It was alluring to enjoy nature at its best; all its contents, including the abundant rural resources, the trees, domestic animals and the working hard rural people. Similarly, what impressed me the most was the energetic commitment of the villagers in ploughing, preparing, conserving and fertilizing their land for making it well prepared for this upcoming agricultural season; this rainy season.
By a large, the world is not at a normal stance this critical moment. Large parts of the world population have been getting confused or paralyzed by the declared corona virus pandemic and its serious social and economic consequences. Consequently, here in Eritrea, farmers are strictly adhering to their objectives, in coping to all events, in relation to health, economic and other social discrepancies, which is my core point that I want to share. In my sincere observation, I witnessed excellent events that were locally organized, where local farmers changed the narrative in this testing circumstance of this pandemic.
I decided to have a talk with one farmer on how things are going-on in relation to their living, the pandemic and other societal issues. After forwarding each other’s greetings, the discussion continued this way:
I asked, “What is your opinion on this critical moment?”
The farmer replies, “we all witness a very difficult times aside our brothers and sisters throughout the world. But, the difference is we in our surroundings do not focus on what is going on, as it is always a natural phenomenon, but we do focus on what we should do about it”
I asked, “So what do you do to deal with the situation?”
Farmer replays, “Within any challenge, there are always opportunities. There is no question this pandemic has generally raised economic and social anxiety levels around the world, but we have a good experience in making things right. Despite the challenges of this pandemic, we looked at the wider opportunities that we shall take in consideration, by working harder in our land, so that to get better productivity in the upcoming season. We do watch that the world is affected with people getting fever, cough, trouble breathing, and exhaustion and we understand that it is as it is. The most important thing that I want to share with you is to describe that we are and who we are”.
In this conversation, I did sense that the farmer strives to stay positive, dreaming that this crises will enable him to see things dimensionally, to make comparisons so that to embrace all the whatever.
As we all known it and as it has labelled as a black swan event or equated to the economic scene of World War Two , the outbreak of COVID-19 has had a detrimental effect on global systems with a ripple effect on every aspect of human life. As a camouflage, its turmoil effect on the economy, agriculture, petroleum & oil prices, manufacturing industry, education, tourism, aviation and others is very disturbing looking at how every normal has diverted to abnormal situation these days.
Incidentally, the Chinese use the same world to describe the concepts of crisis to the word opportunity. What they mean to say is that in every crisis lies an opportunity, depending on how we are looking at it. There is an opportunity in every crisis and the deeper the crisis, the better the opportunity can be. Though some people are not capable of seeing it the Eritrean society concisely knows it all the way. Appling this to Eritrean society, no society on earth has defined itself toughly during worst times as that of Eritrean society in relation to endurance and flexibility. In every crisis it understands itself as a dynamic being, restlessly engaged upon transforming life, improving its conditions of existence, reorganizing its thinking, etc., over the course of history and now. Part of the self-understanding of our society is the sense of contrast with its polar opposite, a static society. Therefore, it always steadfastly engaged in making things right irrespective of their complications. Eritrean society has one common belief to embraces things as they are and it prepares accordingly.
In a nutshell, the villagers and the farmers hard work in overcoming the current health crisis teaches us many things. First, the hard work of Eritrean society; second, its ability to cope with any situation; third, the social braveries of not constraining by whatever challenges; fourth, forwardness to circumstances, are amongst things that I have concluded about the nature of the Eritrean society based on such single observation. Arguably, the greatest gift we glean from such villagers is an improvement in our ability to see what will be next and what should be done in relation to the uncertain tomorrow.
Indeed, such experience reminds a belief; ‘nothing is new for Eritrean society under the sun and it is the society that always dynamically prevails’, which is deeply embedded in our core values.