Sawa: the stage of absolute possibilities
by Habtom Habtemichael
Sawa, is a place where diversity is enjoyed. Annually, this place hosts thousands of young individuals from different walks of life. Through their diversity, those individuals grow in harmony, discipline and academics and come back with a big change of personality in their lives.
We have here with us, Tedros Goitom, from Sweden. After many years, he has made his desire of coming to Sawa and get the most out of it with his people.
- -Tell us something about yourself.
I am Tedros Goitom. I was born in Keren and went to Sweden in 1985 when I was a child. In the last six years, I have been working at the Eritrean General Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany. I’m a member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Eritrea in Germany.
- -What inspired you to come to Sawa and do your national service?
My personal and national motivations drove me to come to Sawa. As a person I admire and believe in the national service program. I believe that beyond the military training and national service, Sawa has a bigger role in the nation building philosophy. I have witnessed that in Sawa while living with the number of people from different backgrounds. It was a beautiful diversity of cultures and experiences. I have always been propagating the importance of national service and I am here to fulfil my duty.
I have been requesting to come to Sawa for the last fifteen years. But due to my job assignments, I haven’t been able to do so. At last, this year I had the opportunity to come. I am proud and happy to be a member of this round. I believe that the objectives of national service are very important for every citizen.
I am a father of two. My kids were born and raised in Sweden. I always try to tell them about Eritrea and I want to show them that I am really committed to what I say and believe about my country and duties.
Back when I was in Germany, which was two years ago, I had faced a heart attack problem. I was told that I wasn’t supposed to do heavy physical activities. I continued my medical treatment in Sweden. That is why I had always had the dream to prove myself that I am still strong enough to be in Sawa.
- -What activities do you do back where you are from?
Serving my country gives me a purpose of living. I’m a member of the YPFDJ and the staff of Eritrean General Consulate and Public Affairs in Frankfurt, Germany. It is my dream to serve my country professionally. After I went to Sweden, I joined the Red Flowers group and I can say that I am accustomed to what the Eritrean diaspora had to go through in the struggle for independence process. I have been active in numerous community activities. Since the youth movement was formed in the diaspora, I was one of the people to join and become a chairperson of the organization in Sweden.
- -What has particularly impressed you about Sawa?
I love Sawa. I was in Sawa eight years ago, in 2010, where I served as a teacher. I come to see every time I get the chance to come because it is a feature of Eritrea. When you come here to Sawa, you see love, comradeship, young men and women from all parts of Eritrea living, working, studying and training together. Through these activities, the students get to know each other. They learn and share experiences they cannot get anywhere else. The harmony is the beauty of Sawa.
The greater impression is, the strength and resilience of trainers who have been in Sawa for many years. Some of them have been here since the first round and made huge sacrifices for the nation like others who are all over the trenches to defend the nation. I know many of these people, and we became friends. Being here in Sawa for a few months, in comparison with this is, not a big deal for me. These factors all induced me to come to Sawa.
I am heartened to see the organization, management, timing and many more good qualities of Sawa. Everything in Sawa is like a perfect puzzle; it fits very well.
- -And you are graduating at a time of peace developments …
Yeah. When we at last have come out of the so called “no war, no peace” situation. After 20 years of negative narrative about us from different sides, Eritrea is vindicated now. We have been working to portray our true image in the last few years. Despite all the challenges, we stood tall and proved that the truth is on our side. I thank God for I am graduating at this juncture.
Our graduation and this year’s Eri-Youth festival are being celebrated at a special occasion. In addition to the different activities in cultural, sport, educational activities and all the fantastic decorations, we are celebrating our graduation and festival in a peaceful mood of victory which is giving the greatest pleasure to everyone here in Sawa. We have won the war and, again, we have won the peace, through heavy sacrifices and lost opportunities. This added flavor to this year’s festival.
I have been trying a bit to accommodate and organize the Eritreans who came from the diaspora in the few last weeks. I admire all individuals and organizations who participated in organizing this event and all the trainees in Sawa who worked hard work to prepare for the event.
- -Tedros, is there anything you want to add before we finish our interview?
First, I would like to congratulate Eritreans, Ethiopians and the people of the region for the peace. This has come at the price of our martyrs, and through the resilience of the Eritrean people. The situation of “no war, no peace” in conjunction with the smear anti-Eritrea campaigns have made us pay heavy sacrifices. Peace has come at the price of immeasurable lost opportunities. The displacement of our young people all over the world, who would have contributed immensely to the nation building, as part of the evil policies pursued by western regimes in conjunction with the anti- Eritrea stand, which has been going on for the last 20 years, hurt us. But thanks to our resilience we again have won. This is the rebirth of our independence; clear future is set in motion from now on. Today, beyond the revealed truth, Eritrea is now more secure, stronger and more defined as a nation.
For the youth, Sawa is very important and is a continuation of our armed struggle for independence. Because of the spirit, philosophy and objectives of Sawa, Eritrea has emerged victorious. I hope the Sawa objectives will continue in a more developed and organized manner.
I firmly believe that, the current peace developments coupled with the solid development pillars laid in Eritrea will enable us to materialize our development goals at a faster to recover the lost opportunities in the coming years. Our people inside the country have been doing magnificent work and paying sacrifices, and the diaspora Eritreans must come and do our part in economic and professional contribution. Peace is very precious to those who know the bitterness of war and its consequences and no one has experienced the perils of war more than us. We are required to do more protect the peace.
The culmination of our issue in a peaceful settlement with Ethiopia is the outcome of our resilience and readiness for every possibility. We have been in war for the last 20 years, in its various forms. Had it not been for the people of Eritrea and the PFDJ, we would not have been able to stand proudly today. The political culture and philosophy of YPFDJ made us stand tall and proud to enter a new phase of cooperation and development. The values which enabled us to gain our independence are here in Sawa today and need to be protected.
This phase will not be easy; we will have challenges. There will be individuals and groups who might want to disturb these peace developments. So we need to be vigilant as we have always been.