No disrespect, but the “ELF” is IRRELAVANT!

By: Ibrahim Hajj

22 June 2005

No one in his right frame of mind could deny the historical role that the mighty ELF (1961-1981) had played in the context of our long and arduous struggle for freedom, nor could any anyone with the slightest sense of fairness and  commonsense could fail to credit “Jabha Abbai” with preparing our people in the 60s and 70s for the armed struggle against  the occupation. To deny that is an absolute folly.

As we grew up in the late sixties and early seventies to many of us the words “Eritrea” and “Jabha” were synonymous .Two sides of the same coin.

 The ELF (1961-1981) through its heroics deeds had not only captured the imagination of the Eritrean people, but it also gave our people the hope that there would be light at the end of the tunnel.

And let’s make no mistake that the genesis of today’s independent Eritrea should be traced back to the pioneering armed struggle which the ELF began in 1961.

True, the ELF had had its mistakes, but those shortcomings should be not seen in isolation from the type of mentality prevailing back then, and nor should they be judged by today’s progressive mentality. Plus no one is perfect.

And then, of course, came the year 1981 which suddenly spelled the end of the mighty “Jabha Abbay”, for whatever reason.

 The ELF has, ever since, ceased to exist as relevant and viable political force.

Some fragments have emerged in the aftermath of the ELF demise. Many of these factions argue they are a continuation of the now non-existent ELF. But they are similar only in name and evidently lack the charisma, substance, spirit or culture of the ELF that existed between (1961-1981). And the sum of these splinter groups is not equal to the mighty “Jabha Abbay”

I suspect this might upset people with sentimental attachment to the ELF (1961-1981), like myself, but my aim here is to encourage people to think outside the square, when seeking answers to issues that our post-independence Eritrea faces. Let me explain.

Facts and figures.

A baby, who was born in 1981, would today be an adult aged 24. And a child who was TEN in 1981 would today be in his/her mid thirties.

And what that young Eritrean knows about the ELF (1961-1981) is similar to the stories our parents passed on to us regarding the WW2 between the British and Italians around “Tenklahas – Keren”. Interesting stories but irrelevant to the current issues.

An interesting observation:

If you go to any “ELF” sponsored political gatherings and look into at the demography (age bracket) of the attendants, you will not fail to notice the absence of people aged under 35.

  Now what does that mean?  It simply means that the “ELF” agenda is irrelevant to the future generation. And if the agenda of any political group fail to attract the our young people , then that group has lost touch with reality and is no doubt living in the past.

You can not possibly tackle modern issues with old tools. You can not fight inflation with an ‘Ab Ashera” gun.

We need to look outside the square.

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