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Sun, 04.10.1910

Hamid Awate, Military Commander born.

Hamid Awate

*Hamid Awate was born on this date in 1910. He was a Black Eritrean guerrilla commander.

Idris Hamid Awate was born in Gerset, in southwestern Italian Eritrea. His father, a peasant, trained him as early as childhood in the use of guns. Hamid was of Tigre and Nara descent. In 1935, Hamid was drafted and served in the Italian colonial army of the Eritrean Ascari. Because of his fluency in Arabic, Tigre, Tigrinya, Nara, Hedareb, and Kunama, Hamid went to Rome for military intelligence. He was appointed as a security officer in western Eritrea. He was deputy chief (Mayor) of Kassala (Sudan) and its surroundings in 1940/1941 at the beginning of World War II. As Mayor of Kassala, he promoted the political union of that city to his country, Eritrea, but Allied offensives at the end of January 1941 forced him to renounce it.

After Italy was pushed out of Eritrea, Hamid settled there. Eventually, he fought with the British authorities and began an armed campaign against Britain's control over Eritrea from 1942 to 1948. He fought as an Eritrean Ascari in the Battle of Keren during World War II and the Italian guerrilla campaign in Eritrea against Allied forces with the cavalrymen of Ali Gabre. Afterward, Hamid and his armed faction came to a truce agreement with the British. During this time, the Eritrean independence movement was taking shape and working towards peacefully making Eritrea an independent country rather than joining landlocked Ethiopia.

In 1958, a group of Eritrean exiles in Cairo founded the Eritrean Liberation Movement under Hamid's leadership. In July 1960, young Eritrean students and intellectuals formed the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) in Cairo. In Eritrea, authorities were suspicious of Hamid's movements and activities and were watching him closely. Eritrean police forces planned to arrest Hamid in his village in August 1961. Turki explains that the Ethiopians deployed many police forces, but Eritrean Muslims foiled their plans with the Eritrean police, who informed Hamid earlier of that plan. Hamid then fled to Mount Adal. Hamid's armed resistance was reached after deliberations with other Muslims.

After four months, Mohammed Al-Shiekh Daood asked Hamid to declare the revolution. Hamid agreed to lead the armed struggle. Al-Shiekh Daood supplied Hamid with old arms, bullet rifles "abu khamsa," and sugar and tea. In addition, Ibrahim Mohammed Ali brought two rifles. On September 1, 1961, eleven rebels led by Hamid attacked police posts in the west of Eritrea, including one on Mount Adal. A fierce battle ensued between Hamid's and Eritrean police forces, lasting 30 minutes and ending in a stalemate. In May 1962, Awate told his unit he was not feeling well. His condition began to deteriorate quickly. On May 28, 1962, Awate died; his companions buried him secretly and did not reveal his death until four years later.


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