Regionalism—the Issue That Needs our Attention

By Aaron Berhane April 2008 Canada is a multi-ethnic country. It accommodates people of different backgrounds to live together in harmony. Its settler...

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By Aaron Berhane
April 2008

Canada is a multi-ethnic country. It accommodates people of different backgrounds to live together in harmony. Its settlers try to live in harmony by ignoring their ethnic differences, which makes Canada an exemplary country.

As an Eritrean-Canadian community, are we able to learn from the people who live in this country? Do we exist in harmony among ourselves? Do we prioritize our differences or promote our unity?

Issues in our community divide us, but we haven’t started to talk openly about them. People often ask the origin of a person before they will stretch out a helping hand. They tend to support only people of their region but ignore others. Usually, such attitudes stem from uncivilized politicians, but they are practiced by people who lack a social conscience. They see things so narrowly due to their ethnocentric behavior. They develop a feeling that their own group’s cultural traditions and values are correct and superior to all others. This is just the result of a lack of knowledge.

Italy established Eritrea as a country in 1890, and divided it into eight provinces. This provincial division had nothing to do with race, religion or culture. It was meant to establish an administrational zone based on geographic locations. Since our people were not educated then, we were not able to challenge the conspiracy of the colonizers who tried to ignite conflict among our people on the basis of religion or region. Such abortive ideas were dismantled during the time of armed struggle—the 30-year war liberating Eritrea from Ethiopia. Everybody was proud of being Eritrean. Unfortunately, some people from the diaspora have not yet recovered from the illness of regionalism. As a result, they become victims of uncivilized politicians.

There are uncivilized politicians who try to divide people, so as to implement their own agendas. Some people, who lack social maturity, rush to embrace their people of their own ethnic group while rejecting others. Then instead of cooperation, we see separation; instead of the blossoming of love, we see the domination of hatred; instead of growth, we see decay. In brief, we see abortive behaviors that impede the progress of our community.

We are living in the 21st century, and we will need to inherit the good fruit of Canada. Here, we see people harmonizing their activities despite their ethnic differences. On the other hand, we tend to push one another despite the similarities in our origin. This issue deserves our keen attention.

Therefore, let’s help those in our community who have messed themselves up with the philosophy of regionalism. Let’s focus on issues that bring us together and avoid those that divide us. We also have to be aware that our identity can be defined on the level we are at now, not on our ethno-historic background.