The 25th Anniversary of the Launching of National Service Program

Articles - General

Twenty five years back the National Service Program officially started in Sawa grounds.

Since then Sawa has trained and graduated 32 rounds of young Eritreans. Visitors from all parts of the country flocked to Sawa to be part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations. The visitors include members of the first round of national service, parents of members of the 32nd round of national service and graduates of Sawa Vocational Training Center as well as invited guests and Eritreans from broad.

The celebration, under the theme “Sawa: Perfect Choice for Sustainability”, includes military parade that involves ground forces, mechanized, commando, air, naval and special forces, musical dramas, cultural shows, calisthenics, carnival, exhibition, seminars and inauguration of books .

At exactly 6:30 AM. the 25th anniversary was officially opened. Col. Ezra Weldeghbriel, Chairperson of the Silver Jubilee Celebration Program, gave an opening speech. He said the national service program was introduced to achieve a farsighted vision of building and defending national dignity and ensuring sustainable development. “This perfect choice has ensured a bright future of sustainability”, Col. Ezra underlined.

A calisthenics show titled “Medrek”, roughly translated as “Stage”, was presented. The performance shows the 25-year journey of Sawa in five phases. A total of 500 students and 12 trainers participated in the musical drama.

Yonatan Tadese, aka “Dula”, presented a song titled “Meskrulu” which is translated as “Be witness to his deeds”. This song reflects the determination and resilience of the Eritrean youth against all odds. The song highlights the strong connection between Adal- (a place where the struggle for independence started) Nakfa (the hallmark of Eritrean resilience), and Sawa which has become a witness to the heroic feats of Warsay. Yonatan’s song glorifies the Eritrean youth as having an inherent capacity to overcome any challenge. Thus, Warsay follows the footstep of the freedom fighters. The Eritrean youth are loyal servants of their nation and are always ready to live up to the nation’s expectations.

In his speech, Col. Debesai Ghide, head of the National Service Training Program, gave an account of the overall military training activities of the members of the 32nd round of national service and the 10th commencement of Sawa Vocational Training Center. Col. Debesai also highlighted that Sawa is a center where the youth are nurtured with noble Eritrean values of mutual respect, heroism and selfless determination towards common cause. The 32nd round of national service have demonstrated excellence and achieved a new record.

Col. Debesai finally commended all parties who contributed towards the success of the 25th anniversary of the launching of the national service.

A drama in Tigrinya titled “Gu’ezo”, translated as Journey, also shows the ups and downs all Eritreans were forced to go through, their resilience against all odds and the ultimate victory they achieved despite subtle conspiracies and hostilities. The transfer of noble values of the freedom fighters to the young generation and the responsibility the Eritrean youth have shouldered in safeguarding national sovereignty was effectively reflected in this drama.

A carnival show led by the inhabitants of villages around Sawa included horsemen and camels men. The carnival showcased all activities that have been carried out since the launching of the national service program, including the academic, technical and vocational training being provided in Sawa.

A group of men holding shields and spears demonstrated strong commitment against invaders. Construction activities that represent Sawa airport, Warsay Yekealo Senior Secondary School, the overall progress Sawa registered to date, starting from makeshift tents to the construction of hangars, opening of vocational training centers, various development campaigns, safeguarding national sovereignty, expansion of telecommunication services and other development ventures were highlighted through the carnival.

“Zemenay,” a song by Filimon Meharay, describes events in different eras and the steadfastness of the Eritrean people and their readiness to defend their nation and preserve the noble national values.

A drama in Bidawyet titled “Ajer Jock” was a remarkable performance. This drama is all about the historic development of Sawa that could be traced back to about 400 years ago. In those times Sawa was a traditional military center of a Bidawyet ethnic group who settled around the river banks of Sawa. Accompanied by traditional Bidawyet dance and songs, the drama depicts the distant past and present development of Sawa.

A song by Abeba Haile also illustrates a connection between Nakfa and Sawa. In her song, Abeba describes Sawa and Nakfa as holy shrines of the Eritrean people. The sons and daughters of Sawa have safeguarded their nation and demonstrated the heroic feats of the freedom fighters.

The graduates of the 32nd round of the national service said made an oath to serve their country and live up to its expectations.

After a presentation of songs, President Isaias Afwerki and General Philipos Weldeyohness, Commander in Chief of the Eritrean Defense Forces, gave awards of merit to outstanding members of the 32nd round of national service.

In his speech, President Isaias honored all those who scarified their lives for the nation and the members of the national service who are still making extensive efforts in the nation-building process.

Following the official opening and presentation of various shows at Sawa’s stage, President Isaias Afwerki inaugurated an exhibition that vividly shows a steady journey of 25 years in nurturing competent youth in various domains. Sawa’s journey at different phases is clearly portrayed in the display of 93 photo frames. The photography exhibition organized by the Ministry of Information starts with Embalqo (a military training center during the struggle for independence), early activities of Sawa military training center and its progress in nurturing skilled youth through the provision of vocational training. Martyrdom of the members of national service in safeguarding national sovereignty was another aspect of the exhibition. Exhibition of paintings and artilleries was also part of the display staged in the 5th unit of Sawa Training Center.

The opening of the exhibition was accompanied by cultural shows. Two sisters, Semhar and Danait Yohannes, presented a song titled “Menesey”, the youth.

The official celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the launching of national service program held on 2 August was concluded with an inauguration and review of two books, “Mekete” and “Warsay”, that was held at the conference hall of Sawa School of Business and Administration. The 10th commencement of Sawa Vocational Training Center is being held today in the morning hours at Sawa stage.
Happy Silver Jubilee!!