Written by Habtom Tesfamichael
Explaining what Sawa stands for might be a bit complex, but in few words, Sawa is home to personal development. Hence, when students from all walks of life sail on the one year long journey of Sawa, they do indeed learn and share experiences they’ll never find in books or other schools. You learn to love, respect and gain from the differences of your new brothers and sisters. Sawa is the first chapter of adulthood: and the first class of growth and success.
Seare Ghebrekidan sailed along with his Eritrean brothers and sisters, he departed from the USA!
Q: Tells us something about yourself.
My name is Seare Ghebrekidan zegta. I was born in Addis Ababa and went to the USA in 1988, I have lived in Washington DC, USA for almost 28 years. I worked as a bus driver for the government, then as a train driver and finally I come to Eritrea and owned a taxi.
Q: What was the hidden motive that pushed you to join Sawa and do your national service?
When your understanding broadens, when you know better about Eritrea, you then will have the opportunities to understand your right and duties. Your identity always obliges you to do certain things and national service is one of them. Back in the USA I duly participated in every seminars of the Eritrean communities, members of government used to come and give us explanations about the ongoing objectives of our homeland while doing their best to educate us about the policies, situation in our home country, the attributions needed to be extended, as well as, challenges faced.
Naturally, as a young man you would have the feeling to direct your mind elsewhere and listen to the other narrative of country circulating in the world; so a thoroughly studied decision is vital.
I lived in DC for a long period of time, the western media feeds us a lot of information and successfully confuses many people. But as one grows, he/she needs to open up their mind and search for the hidden truth. And when you come and see it for yourself, the real situation you find amazes you in ways you wouldn’t know. You would be like ‘wow really?!
Likewise, a place with no progress what so ever. … I knew the western media was full of lies, so my vital decision was to come to Eritrea and see for myself.
The most pushing factor that led me to come here was when I realized that the objective of the organized western hostility, especially the US, targets the people and the government of Eritrea. The baseless sanctions imposed on us and the untold wrong doings… we can mention countless iniquitousness, to deteriorate the people of Eritrea and hinder us from being different and successful. Then I asked myself: ‘would I do better serving white men for the rest of my life or join my people and do history for Eritrea?’
I decided I want to be part of the historical advent of Eritreans and their drive. But in order for me to do so I had to pass through the national service, and so here I am in Sawa.
Q: What would your answer be to foreigners asking why people migrate out of Eritrea?
Before the independence it was a survival quest as Eritrea was being tormented by a war that no other country tried to look at. But today it is a completely different story; there are immigration workers that tell migrants if they don’t lie they won’t be able to get the green card. Young Eritreans love their country and families; they leave not because they hate the country, it is because they know they’ll tell what it is wanted to be heard and get the green card.
The westerners use so many crafts to demonize Eritrea and its government. I’m here in Sawa never seen it before. I am going to give you an example. They say violations in Sawa, rape, killing, torturing… this and that.
Eritrea is different from the other African countries; it is not in the pockets of the westerners, and that drives them crazy. They think “you have the sanctions so you will not eat, the no war no peace situation will keep you hungry. No work. No tourism.” That is what they think; but we still manage to stop us from striving and succeeding. When migrants enter their country, they get a case worker, their job is to lead you to what you have to say. And as consequence there are a lot of Ethiopians, Sudanese and other nationalities getting green cards simply because they say they are from Eritrea.
The US itself, when they talk about Eritrea…it makes me laugh. Because, for example there are black Americans, the rule of law is not applied on them. If you are black in the US, your mother is not worried about gangsters, drug dealers…she will say “my son be careful from the police”. Because the police can simply kill you and no one can do anything about it. The blacks are still struggling to live in equality. So in what position they are to tell us about human rights? There are more than 3.5 million black Americans in prison without any kind of hope. The system is very tough. You have to live it to understand it. Human rights violation starts with themselves in the US. If they truly care about us, it is very simple. Why don’t they take up their role in implementing the EEBC ruling and lift the sanctions. But they don’t want to do that because they know what we can do. We are seeing what is going on in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iraq…amazingly when they bombed Iraq, it was only the oil ministry building which was not bombed. Their objective is clear. Are they really going to teach us about human rights?
Q: What has particularly impressed you of Sawa?
What I saw was amazing. Thousands of young boys and girls from different ethnic and religious groups, go to this one big boarding school. After finishing the school we take our military training together, learn to grow together. You learn how to care for others, to be patient …etc. So Sawa is not only a military camp, it is a big lifetime university. It is a big accomplishment as long as you score a degree or diploma however if you weren’t able to score in the matriculation examinations, don’t worry, you will join Sawa vocational Training center (SVTC) and learn different skill and learn how to be creative. So everything is fine, fine and just fine. All it matters is that when you get out of Sawa you’ll have something; education, military training, technological skills, auto mechanics… On this occasion I want to forward my message to the westerners: come and see and basically to leave us alone.
Q: I have also heard you give seminars to your fellows in Sawa
Yeah, because I want them to know that living abroad is not as sweet as they think. Once you come to the diaspora, you have to pay for school, medical service… so you need money. You have to work for them in low wages than theirs, just because you are from Africa: modern slavery. They have planned this very well. So they are trying to suffocate us.
Q: Any final words Seare?
I want to tell every Eritrean, abroad or here, to stand together. The world will actually grow tired of weakening us. The US state department normally says: “Our interest is everywhere and we don’t have a permanent enemy” so if they realize they won’t destroy us they will work with us.
I advise the youth that we Eritreans have a worthy culture and we need to nurture these values and norms so that we can pass them to the next generation.
To all Eritreans in Washington D.C and here in Eritrea Selam, Selam!