Celebration & Forum held in Vienna Austria on the occasion of ‘Asmara’ World Heritage Site Inscription!
| Embassy Media UK
Vienna Saturday 15th July 2017 – The people of Eritrea have long said their capital Asmara is like no other city in Africa, and on July 8th 2017 the UN agreed, designating it a World Heritage site. The proclamation ends a long-running quest by Eritrean authorities to have the city´s unique architecture, which includes an art-deco bowling alley with coloured glass windows and a petrol station built to resemble a soaring aeroplane, recognised by the UN cultural body, UNESCO.
The Austrian branch of the Universal Peace Federation, United Nations Correspondents Association Vienna, Horn of Africa Peace Initiative hosted a forum in collaboration with Eritrean Permanent Representative to UN in Austria Mr. Abdelkadir Hamdan and Head of Horn of Africa News Agency (HORNA) Eng. Abdella Sherif at a prime location in the city under the theme “Asmara: City of Dreams”. Opening the event Dr. Peter Haider, President of Universal Peace Federation, welcomed the guests and gave briefing focusing on the program noted the role and responsibility, importance of Asmara Inscription onto the UNESCO’s World Heritage List and expressed good wish for the Eritrean Delegation.
In the opening remarks Prof. Habteab Tsege member of the Steering Committee and Head of Mining Eng. Department at Mai Nefhi College stated that the inscription of Asmara city onto the UNESCO World Heritage list is a symbol of pride and achievement for the Eritrean people and shoulders the responsibility to maintain its status. He said, Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea, is a unique and distinct social environment of modernist architectural design realized in an African highland setting. The modernist buildings that make up the World Heritage Site of Asmara were built in late 19th and first half of 20th century – known for its well-preserved buildings of modernist architectural designs, Asmara is the first World Heritage Site to be recognised in Eritrea. At the end Prof. Habteab Tsege called on participants to work for preserving the strong values of the People and Government of Eritrea, and looking forwards to work together with all the representatives and heads of organisation.
Eng. Medhanie Teklemariam, Architect and City planner, who is responsible for the Asmara’s World Heritage nomination project explained, why Asmara, the capital of Eritrea should belong to the UNESCO World Heritage. He was accompanied and supported by the Director for City Planning of Asmara, Eng. Tesfalem Woldemichael.
Eng.Medhanie Teklemaryam, spoke about the cultural assets rehabilitation project, and the work done with the push of the Eritrean government on self reliance and increasing of capacity on scanning, planning, and digitally scanned the archives which they described as the richest archives they had come across.
Eng. Tesfalem Woldemichael further explain the process of the Asmara world heritage project and how this would act as a platform for other sites such as Adulis, Quahiyto, Massawa to redress the imbalance created by the failure of international institutions. On the issue of moratorium they explained how the Eritrean government made a halt on building for 20 years to give time to understand it and how the Asmara building heritage and municipality worked to legally protect whilst allowing the city to thrive and develop
The inscription of Asmara into the World Heritage List is also a symbol of pride for African peoples. What was once an urban-scape of colonial planning that racially segregated Eritreans from their colonizers, it is now a symbol of the decolonization of modernity and heritage, putting indigenous Africans at the center of world heritage while also embodying both colonial and postcolonial African life. The historical, functional and architectural integrity of Asmara and in particular the subject architectural sites have been well preserved despite the decades of war and upheaval experienced by Eritrea to gain her independence from successive colonisers.
It will encourage and increase current Eritrean efforts to restore and maintain these buildings, as well as bring awareness to the world of this African modernist treasure.
Mrs. Salwa Dallalah, Director of Conference & Document Service at the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA gave a speech in solidarity with the people of Eritrea and Dr. Gerhard Kiennast, President of Environmental Concepts Exchange Associations E.C.E.E.X.A. who made an introductory statement and gave an insight on Eritrea.
The Forum was an important occasion for celebration and harmony, consolidation of African unity, strengthen the African culture and identity, promoting higher mobilization and organization, developing African capacity and ingenuity. Another unforgettable moment of the event was the music performance from the Sudanese cultural group; sent the crowd wild which witnessed the high level of patriotism with a wave of the colourful Eritrean flag dominating the sight of every participant.
On closing remarks Dr. Peter Haider, President of Universal Peace Federation stressed the importance of the forum bringing together from all fields to address and celebrate Asmara :City of Dreams and exploring different areas opportunities of working together towards a sustainable development process in Eritrea and Africa.
He also thanked all participants, especially speakers and those who chaired the sessions on behalf of the organising committee noting their contribution.