Recently I was fortunate enough to meet for a brief moment a leader I greatly appreciate. An icon of the Eritrean struggle for independence and a living legend. A man well known for his modest lifestyle and simplicity.
His daily life activities are not that different from any ordinary citizen of his country. He dresses like an ordinary citizen, he lives in a small house amongst his people, he participates in all social activities in his neighborhood, he moves and mingles freely throughout the country and it is relatively easy to meet him. His office must be the most modest office of its kind in the world.
We were lucky to meet him and after we met him, my fifteen year old daughter said, “ Dad… it didn’t feel like we were talking to a president, he was like any ordinary person you would meet in the streets, though a bit different with his politeness and humbleness.” I am talking of President Isaias Afwerki (PIA) of Eritrea!
PIA’s well-rounded knowledge, and open-minded personality is beyond anyone’s imagination. His exceptional and pragmatic leadership quality goes back more than six decades, to the days of armed struggle for independence. Until these days he remains to be an exemplary genuine revolutionary and progressive leader, free from corruption.
Out of love and closeness, Eritreans throughout the nation and abroad call him “Wedi Afwerki” for ‘Son of AFWERKI’ – a common way of addressing a loved one or close friend in Eritrea.
As his friends and those who know him well explain, Wedi Afwerki is known to never get stressed; he is very progressive, focused and a balanced, brave person who is known for his calm leadership even in times of hardship.
His exceptional abilities of ground reality reading skills, unmatched patience, his deep consciousness of geopolitical affairs, and based on experiences, his very high prediction of the geopolitical landscape for the coming years are noteworthy.
I am not in any way trying to paint a cult-like personality around him and his leadership team’s modest lifestyle, ideological and intellectual superiorities. It is, in fact, a well known fact and secret of the square to many in Eritrea and the progressives of the global south. As a result, President Isaias Afwerki is one of the only truly independent leaders who doesn’t jump, to dance to the tune of the global north.
President Isaias is a staunch believer in self-reliance and a well known advocate of a truly independent political and economic sovereignty.
With his confidence and can-do attitude, he is well equipped to steer the entire Horn of Africa at large towards a greater peace and tranquility. His humble, respectful and independent mindset abhors political flip flopping.
The respect Eritrea receives for its independent and homegrown policies at the corridors of big international diplomacy headquarters, is a reflection of the independence and self confidence leadership team.
During our conversation, I learned more about current global affairs, the role of social media, western hegemonic agendas and their distorted narratives of the global south, the disinformation and misinformation of the western propaganda machine and the need to enlighten and encourage critical thinking among the youth so that they are aware of the distorted narratives.
The late former Ethiopian PM, Meles Zenawi, before he sold his soul to be a subservient puppet of Western donations and handouts, is quoted to have said: “one-hour discussion with President Isaias Afwerki gives much more knowledge and return value than reading dozens of books”. I agree with him!
A brief time with the President can help you reshape your thoughts, broaden your prospects and most importantly, learn that wisdom is an accumulated experience with a four-dimensional perspective that can only be achieved with the right mindset and personality.
I was lucky to take photos with him with the Tekera Dam and the astonishing open landscape that surrounds the dam. I would like to wrap up my reflection about my meeting with Mr. President Isaias Afwerki, with an analogy he told me.
Every human being is blessed with three very important soft powers that he metaphorically coupled with three words that start with “B”: the Brain (ሓንጎል), the Bile (ሓሞት) and Blood (ደም). The Brain with its white color and complex shape stands for cognitive ability and intellect, the Bile with its green color and bitter taste stands for guts and bravery, while the Blood with its red color represents energy.
He concluded his metaphor by saying that only those who understand these three soft powers and utilize them in combination, are those who can make a difference in life.
Spending few minutes with the man who bravely exposed the Western Camp dogma, the man who is intellectually challenging neocolonial doctrine, the man who has played a key role in raising awareness, the man who fearlessly resisted open aggression, the man who can withstand untold pressures and fend off orchestrated disinformation, was humbling to say the least.
President Isaias Afwerki is definitely one of the greatest leaders of our time, he is cheered and praised by the greater global south, while for obvious reasons remains the most misrepresented and badmouthed leader by the US-led West.
Thanks to his wise leadership, all attempts by his fierce opponents in the west to instigate mayhem in Eritrea have not worked. To the contrary, his popularity has surged throughout the region and beyond in recent years. Most importantly, his ideology for social justice, self-reliance, non-corruptible and truly independent and sovereign political line is getting noticed and I hope it will influence the region and the African continent. As an apt Eritrea saying goes: “the camel marches on as the dogs barks”.