Last week, the Ministry of Information assigned a band of journalists to cover the symposium of the southern section of the country that would take place in Mendefera from 16-18 of April, from whom I was one. For that matter, late morning Friday, I together with my colleagues set up our journey in a shining white coaster-minibus and headed our way towards the south of the capital of the country. We trekked on a smooth asphalt road past through the ancient capital city of the sea lords, Debarwa, and followed the road taking to the direction of the capital of the southern region, our final destination. Upon arrival around noon, the public relations officer of the region offered us a warm welcome and provided us with all the necessary accommodation – guided to the comfortable rooms at Luna Hotel. We took some rest; then after we were taken to Sports Club of Mendefera for lunch.
There again, as we reached there, we came head on with an enormous picture of Zerisenay Tadesse, the World’s famous athlete welcomed us reflecting from the inside of the clean decent restaurant. The region, perhaps, posted him there because he is one of the successful athletes of the southern region, who is also the pride of the nation as whole.No wonder, on our way back to the hotel, something rang in my ears – I thought of something like, “I think the southern region is blessed to be so attractive.” For God’s sake, whenever I reserve some time to investigate the southern region, I always find it something extraordinarily special.
Fortunately, I have regularly taken the pleasure to travel in the region, and hence I witness the extraordinary features and success stories of this section of the country. from my experience, I found it so exiting: It is the region rich in ancient historical sites, very old monasteries, historical garrisons, mineral sites, holy waters, striking landscapes, highest mountains, and more than anything else hospitable and industrious people. To be specific, I have enjoyed the most alarming natural features of the Laelay, Ased, and Eshka terrains. I have also seen the highest moving mountains of the country in this region including Mt. Embasoira, (3013kms above sea level) and Mt. Keshaat – attractive for mountain climbers and bird hunters.
I have also observed the living monuments, and ever standing steles on the grounds of the ancient cities of Kohaito, and below Kelew plains which, again, are the potential tourist attractions and means of income for the region. I have, likewise, gone round the antique monasteries of Abune Libanos, Abune Menkerios and Abune Endrias for they have preserved the country’s ancient scripts, history, and religious practices. More notably, I have witnessed the achievements the region has recorded in the past couple of decades. I passed through the remarkable road connecting Kohaito and Foro. Anyway, the impression I had prior to my travel to be immensely remarkable.
The next day, around 8 a.m., we would join a large audience flocking towards a dazzling hall — decorated with a variety curtains and banners from the inside, and surrounded by dozens of waving flags—the Eritrean flag with green (top), red (middle), blue (bottom) and a golden olive branch at the heart with the red on background.And from the inside banners read: “Equitable distribution of infrastructure, fundamental for development”. Soon, after the audience had took their respective seats, administrator of the southern region Mr. Mustefa Nurhusien accompanied by ministers, regional administrators, religious leaders, PFDJ offi cials, and military commanders joined the audience.
Then, following to a couple of minute’s introduction and a message of welcome by the moderator, Mr. Mustefa Nurhusien stood high on the stage behind the podium, welcomed the guests, praised the audience for participation, and forwarded a brief speech on matters related to the achievements the government has registered in the national reconstruction process within the southern region in the past 20 years of independence.
In his speech, Mr. Mustafa said that the region has proved a self reliant people. Yet again, according to him, the region is doing its best endeavor to prove an equitable distribution of infrastructure, electric power supply, telephone service, education, and health.
So far, in the past 20 years, the government has invested some 27 billion Nakfa on infrastructure, and some 22 billion Nakfa in the field of agriculture of the southern region.
Also in the closing ceremony, Mr. Mustefa, confi dently, pledged that the region would, once and for all, solve the existing challenges and problems of the people in the south in the near future.
To add more color to the symposium, a band of youths from the National Union of the Eritrean Youths and Students the Mendefera sub zone lined up on the stage to exhibit a cultural show that heralds the solidarity, patriotism, and commitment of the people of the southern region. The band appears to be highly trained, and well organized. Everything it played was really moving: The music–refreshing. The dance–eye catching and the poems – very touching.
Thereafter, it was time for break and to enjoy a striking exhibition that displayed the 20 years of progress of the region. Here again everything was so pretty that ministers and commanders took more than an hour to enjoy it, and on their way out, some of them commented: “ Very good, well organized.” Included in the exhibition were the products of a variety of branches of ministries, associations, and private institutions.
What is more? … On the same day, in the afternoon, the audience was struck by research papers that dealt with the successes, the challenges, and the limitation of the region on its way to progress and development in the past couple of decades.
A paper presented by Mr. Teodros Tekle, Director of the office of the region administrator, was concerned on the issue of popular political participation, and administration. At first briefly introduced the audience with the southern region. According to Mr. Teodros, the region covers an area of around 10,000 Sq.km and a population more than 762 thousand out of which 84% depends on agriculture and the rest on business, government staff and so on. Tigrign and Saho ethnic groups dominantly make up the population of the region.
Besides, the most of the people of the south are permanent settlers in 997 villages, 8 towns, 12 semi-towns, and or in 231 local administrations. Mr. Teodros said that the people of the southern region since hundred years are known for their sacrifice and patriotism to defend their homeland. For that reason, the region has paid heavy price and has registered a history of success in the wars against various invaders of Ethiopia, Europeans, and others since 1875. Moreover, the people of the region are praised for the heavy price they paid in the 30 years struggle for independence, and in the recent war against the TPLF invasion on Eritrea. Hence, the people of the region are known for their stiff resistance against invaders.
Mr. Bahta Teodros, head of the branch of agriculture in the region, on his part said, the government of Eritrea, on the way to prove food security, has registered a success story using a newly introduced modern farming methods in the region. He said that in the past couple of decades the region has recorded a successful achievement in irrigation, environmental protection, and water and soil preservation “Equitable distribution of infrastructure, fundamental for development,” was one of the shining themes of the symposium, and hence a paper presented by Engineer Khalid Salih, head of engineering and project management of the region, has made it clear. He said that amid wars and aggressions, the government in the post independence years has invested billions in the region so that people could enjoy social justice. For that reason, believing that one of the biggest resources of the country is its people, the government has invested more than 28 billion Nakfa to construct some 1603 projects related to educational infrastructure alone.