A wind of change is blowing across the horn of Africa region. With it comes hope for a people who, for many decades, have known nothing but war hatred for their neighbours. This hate has largely been instigated by leaders who have nothing to offer the people; leaders who thrive on driving wedges between communities if only to propagate plunder of national resources.
Even as the situation in South Sudan begins to stabilize with the impending return of Reik Machar to the national unity government after he was relieved of his Vice President post by President Salva Kiir in 2013, Ethiopia and Eritrea have also lately been mending fences. Our hope is that the new found desire for peace and working together will eventually find its way into the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi where ideological differences have consigned many to a life of misery from economic stagnation and civil wars.
In retrospect, Eritrea, bordered by Sudan to the West and Ethiopia to the South, formed part of Ethiopia until 1993 when it broke away following a referendum, much the same way that South Sudan broke away from Sudan after years of war. Eritrea’s attainment of self-rule came after nearly 30 years of war between Ethiopia and Eritrean separatists who, from the beginning never accepted that Eritrea was a part of Ethiopia. Indeed, Eritrea was only declared a province of Ethiopia after the Second World War.
Yet despite the cross border fight that lasted from 1998 to 2000, the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia share cultural ties speak the same language. Mere demarcations in the form of administrative boundaries should never have been the reason for conflict. But for years, the people of these neighbouring nations have not been seeing to eye. That is now set to change, and with it, a lot of other things will change.
The introduction of daily flights between Ethiopia and Eritrea will boost trade, positively impacting the economies of both countries.
Tranquility in the region and the easing of diplomatic tension and restrictions can only work in the favour of the citizens who need nothing more than peace and tranquility to better their lives.
Regional integration is a sure way of meeting the expectations and aspirations of the people of the Eastern Africa region, and indeed, the whole of Africa.