Every year, around late June, young Eritreans pack their suitcases to start a one-year long journey in Sawa, away from their families. The family they build in Sawa is one composed of companions of the same age from all over the country.
For Eritreans, Sawa has been serving as the biggest platform for the nourishment and fostering of national identity. Sawa reserves countless memories for the Eritrean youth, good and harsh, but still, shared memories and lessons cultivated with brothers and sisters from all ethnic groups. The establishment of Sawa is notably one of the biggest national strategies of the Eritrean government. Col. Ezra further explains the concept behind the silver jubilee celebrations.
- -We will be talking about Sawa as the country is preparing to celebrate the silver jubilee of the founding of Sawa. What are the preparations like?
We have been preparing for the Silver Jubilee Anniversary of Sawa for quite some time. The celebrations will take place from the 1st to the 4th of August, 2019. On the 1st of August Sawa will warmly welcome guests who will attend the four-day long celebrations.
- -What is the importance of this National holiday?
Sawa is in the lives of every Eritrean family. It is part of the society both in the country and outside. There is no Eritrean youth who is not connected to Sawa. This is why the annual celebration, the yearly Sawa festival, is, every time, memorable. This time, it will be even greater as it is the Silver Jubilee Celebrations.
- -Can you give us some sneak peak to what the Silver Jubilee Festival will feature?
The festival is planned out to accommodate more than ten thousand participants. Moreover, the four days of National holiday will be observed nationwide in every region and the main cities of the country. Part and parcel of the merriments will be seminars and the presentation of research analysis linked to activities carried by the institution of Sawa and its undertakings. Additionally, there will be concerts and shows of a variety of contents. To the delight of our youth under the age of twenty, sports tournaments will also be featured in the four-day long national festival. These and other activities will be hosted in Sawa as well as in all other parts of the country where the national holiday will be observed. Needless to say, every activity will be documented and publicized so that Eritreans worldwide can rejoice in the celebrations.
- -Can you explain how the theme, “Sawa: the perfect choice for sustainability”, under which the jubilee is being observed, is relevant?
The national service proclamation was declared after Eritrea’s independence as a continuation of the post-independence struggle aimed at national building. Sawa, therefore, was one of the biggest, most impactful, national strategies. The People and Government of Eritrea knew very well that the Independence attained in May 1991 had to be perpetually sustained through nation building and safeguarding of the country’s sovereignty. Sawa was a choice that aimed for the future. Hence, the theme reflects the right choice made then.
- -What is the ultimate aim of these merriments?
Most importantly we will be celebrating our youth’s link to Sawa. But this will also be the conclusion of the first chapter of Sawa as the Silver Jubilee is being commemorated in a new era. Sawa ensured National Sovereignty in the past years of hostility against Eritrea. We will now evaluate our performance in the past twenty five years. Then we will chart new plans and approaches for the present and the future. Sawa has deep meanings and connotations to our people in Eritrea’s post-independence history. We remember Nakfa when talking about the armed struggle. And when we talk about our contemporary history, Sawa comes to mind. Sawa is the emblem of nationality, patriotism and service to the people. Nakfa and Sawa might differ in time and aim but they both represent the unity of young generations, in different eras of course, for national sovereignty.
- -Sawa, from day one up to now… how would you explain it?
Sawa was originally planned to assist national development plans. The aim of Sawa is to build strong willed youth who serve their country and people. At first Sawa started as a military training camp with parallel plans that had little to do with the military. Then it evolved to be a big town and a big college. And now Sawa is the center of capacity building. The people of Eritrea don’t serve their country only by armaments. We serve our country by investing our minds and talents and so Sawa has been the place for this distinctive aim of the People and Government of Eritrea.
- -What makes Sawa unique?
Our region is rich in human and natural resources. What we lack is unison. For Eritrea the narrative is different. The Eritrean people live in harmony within their diversity. This was a cultural inheritance further enhanced during the armed struggle for Independence and Sawa is the continuation of this narrative. The Eritrean soldier that is trained in Sawa is not a mere soldier. He and she are politically and socially aware young man and woman who hold on to values of love for their people and their country throughout their lives.
- -As one of the veteran administrators of Sawa, on the occasion of its silver jubilee, what would you like to say?
The energy of young people is intense, lively, dynamic and of great vigor. Eritrean youth learn to shape their energy in Sawa. So Sawa is the liveliest place of all. I always feel youthful because I have spent most of my time in Sawa surrounded by the energy of the Eritrean youth. The youth that come here learn to start a personal revolution within themselves. Here, the youth learn to be independent and to be self-reliant. Once they go back home they turn into self-reliant adults. Needless to say, the Nation and the People of Eritrea do greatly benefit from their sensibleness. I’d like to express my appreciation to every young man and woman that has gone through Sawa.
- -Happy Silver Jubilee and thank you for your time.
Pleasure is mine. Happy holidays.