The great day of September 1st 1961, which remains as one of the most important turning points in our history.
Awate, the man of history, occupies special place in our hearts and memories. He was the guardian, the defender and above all father and the founder of the Eritrean revolution. While Awate’s name was a source of terror and intimidation to the enemy’s ear and its collaborators, it was causing a sense of great hope for Eritreans, a feeling of protection, defiance, and confidence in the inevitability of the ultimate victory of their legal and just struggle. Awate is the first Eritrean revolutionary and leader who fired thefirst bullet of Eritrean armed struggle with 13 other pioneers in the historic battle of Adal. He dedicated his life serving the cause of his people and demanded no less than the liberation of the man and the land.
Eritrea was part of the first Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum until its decline in the 8th century. It came under the control of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, and later of the Egyptians. The Italians captured the coastal areas in 1885, and the Treaty of Uccialli (May 2, 1889) gave Italy sovereignty over part of Eritrea. The Italians named their colony after the Roman name for the Red Sea, Mare Erythraeum, and ruled it up until World War II. The British captured Eritrea in 1941 and later administered it as a UN Trust Territory until it became federated with Ethiopia on Sept. 15, 1952. It was made an Ethiopian province on Nov. 14, 1962. A civil war broke out against the Ethiopian government, led by rebel groups who opposed the union and wanted independence for Eritrea. Fighting continued over the next 32 years.
In 1991, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front deposed the country’s hard-line Communist dictator Mengistu. Without Mengistu’s troops to battle, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front was able to gain control of Asmara, the Eritrean capital, and form a provisional government. In 1993, a referendum on Eritrean independence was held, supported by the UN and the new Ethiopian government. Eritrean voters almost unanimously opted for an independent republic. Ethiopia recognized Eritrea’s sovereignty on May 3, 1993, and sought a new era of cooperation between the two countries.
Isaias Afewerki ኢሳያስ ኣፈወርቂ; born 2 February 1945), is the first and current President of Eritrea,
Isaias Afewerki was the leader of the EPLF, which eventually won Eritrea its independence from Ethiopia. In April 1993 a United Nations-supervised referendum on independence was held, and the following month Eritrea was declared independent. The EPLF renamed itself the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice in February 1994 as part of its transformation into Eritrea’s ruling political movement.The PFDJ is the only legal political entity in Eritrea.
The cooperation did not last long. Following Eritrea’s independence, Eritrea and Ethiopia disagreed about the exact demarcation of their borders, and in May 1998 border clashes broke out. Both impoverished countries spent millions of dollars on warplanes and weapons, about 80,000 people were killed, and refugees were legion. The war essentially ended in a stalemate, and a formal peace agreement was signed in Dec. 2000.