Eritrea & the Saga of “in social capital we trust”!

One of from most important ingredients that ascertain a moral society is the existence of a culture of collaboration within and with other societies. Similarly, if a society always stays helpful no challenge could ever penetrate the line of trench that it purses. There are many enthralling examples throughout the world that demonstrate what a collaborative norm in action is anticipated to be.

In the same fashion, here is a leading example that relates with this idea. Uniquely speaking, the levels of predictable cooperation witnessed within Eritrean society during every testing times, including this Pandemic invasion moment, is always fascinating that learning how to get out of it, leading by example, practicing and adapting persistent engagement dominate its social relations. For instance, accepting this Pandemic era requires staying helpful to each other, with the society pursuing direct and indirect cooperation, which retorts what a social capital in an Eritrean perspective is intended to be.

The word Social Capital explicitly represents the material as well as the spiritual fabrics of a particular society. Though it is difficult to quantify per se, social capital represents a virtues of neighborliness, kindness, and being compassionate, which we all have secured its benefits by virtue of our membership to certain social networks. Fine Benin in his important book titled “Theories of social capital: Researchers behaving Badly” put emphasis on, ‘to say a capital is social is not at all the same thing as saying that the social is capital’, which accordingly it implies, bonds (links to people based on a sense of common identity), bridges (links that stretch beyond a shared sense of identity) & linkages (links to people or groups) provides much bigger rewards from what a material asset couldn’t. Important to realize is that social capital is one of the most important ingredients that facilitate growth and development in every society.

Equally important, is that there are plenty of experiences that pay certain respect to what social capital is all about as a dominant virtue. Although this may be true, social capital has also been degrading nowadays due to many factors. That is to say; the first factor is the roles of liberal tenets that ordered individualistic temptations over communal relations that motivate the material world to be on top of everything. Similarly, technological transformations, including addictions of internet, TV and so on contribute detachments from the sharing sides of every cultural virtues.

Thus, a point that needed to be underlined here is, the attainment of collaborative social ties may not be an end in itself but is a means to an end – a way to access much bigger and wider social resources. If neighborhoods, villages, towns and districts defines their existence in relation to much wider collaborative interconnections, neither social nor natural element could ever pierce such a strong fence, which is a fence of kindness and harmony and further a fence of resistance and survival. Equally, if social capital and the virtuous elements of a particular society degrade the society will also simultaneously degrade within a short period of time.

With this in mind, every effect of social capital is defined by the choices it delivered during tough moments. This COVID-19 pandemic era for instance offers a space to think not only about reactions but also about better strategies. The timeless moment echo throughout all social choices is very crucial for stretching the society’s self and setting higher goals. Accordingly, every tougher moment require self-regulations and a collaboration of institutions, relationships, and norms, like what we have been watching within Eritrean society at this critical moment.

In every historical challenge the only thing Eritrean society had was not the world and other things but was each other. Under such circumstances, planning together, working together and enjoying the fruits of collaboration rules all interactions whereas engaging the community was also placed as a key answer to all questions. In every national programs Eritrean community has motivated to participate in variety of ways, including in identifying problems, acting accordingly and so do producing solutions, which is the perfect turnover of the country’s social capital. Eritrea’s social capital has developed in relation to the historical context of how the society has endured the unbearable. Bad experiences are more precious in the society’s life that it learnt a lot from adversities. Like Birds learn to fly more effectively in opposing winds Eritrean societies also discovers its real power while encountering with difficulties. All things considered, most of Eritrea’s society has learned valuable lessons from difficult times that the society has learnt; more from something going wrong than from something going right.

Currently, the most dominant news in Eritrea is not only about the battle against the COVID Pandemic but also is about kindness, collaboration, and donation that Eritrean nationals within and outside  the country have organized to do their part in terms of material as well as moral sharing. As inspiring as it should be, this action is a two-way process that nurtures good norms and best ideas altogether. If a citizen cares about his/her community and wants to act for the benefit of the community full heartedly, this is always stimulating. On the other side, when people feel like they’re a valued part of a community effort, which they understand and support, they are also more likely to actively engage with helping others in the community, like what we are looking in Eritrea.

Karl Marx in all its philosophical pieces emphasized the importance of solidarity, intended as a form of cohesion and camaraderie. According to his philosophy, solidarity is not driven by norms assimilated by individuals and cannot be taught. Rather, solidarity is a movement originating in an emergency situation involving people sharing the same fate, identifying with each other, and supporting each other’s initiatives. Such a virtue has sourced from living in the same condition and in a common situation with no difference.

If we relate this idea with all what is going on within Eritrean society there is no gaps at all. This is a norm where the society practices for centuries, which is a ‘why’ to live in Eritrea. This is a real fact that acknowledges highly collaborative society recognize that collaboration lowers stress and improves the bottom line and in its way proves that Eritrean society has not always looks at the dark side of story but focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. If the world squeezes the slogan of social distancing, Eritrean society purses a slogan of physical distancing, acknowledging that social warmth is a best remedy for all challenges according to its experiences.


Hafiz Mohammed Alamin

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