Self-reliance is one of the main guiding principles in the Eritrean national charter. Its roots go deep in to the hearts and minds of the Eritrean people. It played its indispensable role in the war for independence and in the process of nation building. Peoples’ active and broad participation in all national issues is the main focus of the principle, as far as there is no great power like people’s power that can effectively resolve the challenges of development. Self-reliance denies dependence favoring the interdependence among peoples, aiming far to enhancing people’s internal capability and ensuring sustainability.
‘Self-reliance is not a temporary policy imposed by circumstances, but an objective necessity for every country, big or small, advanced or backward…….”. (Taylor & Francis: 1977: 108) According to the Eritrean national charter, self-reliance is a basic principle in all fields – political, economic and cultural. “Politically, it means to follow an independent line and give priority to internal conditions; economically, to rely on internal capabilities and develop internal capacities; and culturally, to have self-confidence and develop one’s own cultural heritage”.
Self-reliance does not mean self-isolation. It is all about to primarily relay on internal capacity to unleashing the inexhaustible energy and wisdom of the people. Outside assistance is important, but it is secondary. Prioritizing outside aid opens a door to undue interference and dependence. Positioning foreign aid as a complementary and secondary issue is the safest route of nation building. Most of the challenges states encounter in nowadays is stemmed from prioritizing outside aid over local production. When aid substitutes nation’s local production, it kills peoples’ creativity and darkens their future, a misery that is dominantly noticed in third world countries.
Self-reliance is not an alien principle for Eritreans; it is a culture in which its history goes back centuries, and is the main reason that makes our people hardworking and creative. Colonizers intensely worked to eradicate the self-reliant spirit of our people with the purpose to subjugate and exploit mental and land wealth. The Eritrean revolution saved it from extinction along with other national values and norms. The EPLF self-reliantly worked to realize the vision of our independence, firmly believing, “Self-reliant protracted people’s war as the only way to victory”. To equip the army with basic military supplies the EPLF followed the slogan ‘Destroy the enemy with his own guns and bullets’. Even post–independence, self-reliance is implemented extensively, consequently, despite all hostilities, Eritrea has been able to stand firm, be peaceful and much hopeful amid global transition.
Self-reliance is the path of sustainability, when it installs people in all national sectors to upgrade their cultural, political and technical levels. A self-reliant, skilled and hardworking citizen that is equipped with necessary technology is a giant economic power house. It speeds up the process of nation building that is inclusive and sustainable. Here, outside assistance, it serves as an accelerating input when it is constructively tuned with the sharing of experiences and technologies.
Youth as the transforming energy of a society, are recommended to digest self-reliance as the best option of sustainable development. They also have to develop the skill to contextualize pervasive alien ideas and technologies, so as to protect the internal capacity of their people from substitution and ensure national progress. Self-reliance can essentially help youth be active, skilled, up-to-date and productive; if hospitable conditions are arranged.
Thus, self-reliance is one of the basic guiding national principles that enabled Eritreans be victorious in all its national priorities. It focuses in the unfolding of peoples’ bound less potential and their mobilization in all national sectors. Self-reliance, to the youth as the key energy of development, entrusts them to focus deep in to their internal capacity and utilize strange ideas and technologies in a way that can help their people thrive.
Written by: Kidane – Shimendi