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Eritrea: Sawa Festival and the Welfare States

The Sawa yearly youth festival will be held in Sawa, Eritrea, from July 18 to 20, 2014. On the occasion, the graduation of the 27th round of conscripts will take place.

Sawa is a military camp where Eritrean students are transferred to finish their last year of high school.

Based on proclamation 82 of 1995, Eritreans are expected to serve in the national service program for 18 months. However, the service has been extended indefinitely for many who cannot manage to be released.

For a few days each summer, the military camp is overwhelmed by seasonal Eritrean tourists, who hold dual citizenship, when they flock to Sawa for a few days.

According to Eritrean opposition sources, flying the foreign born Eritreans to Sawa yearly has become a lucrative business for a few Eritreans who masquerade as social workers in some Western countries.

Most of the time, the group travel expenses is paid for by the welfare states under the guise of extra-curricular activities and the “need to introduce youth to their ancestral countries.”

As of recent months, Eritreans who oppose the Eritrean regime in Australia and Sweden are building cases and planning to “expose the extra-curricular racket to concerned authorities.” They allege, “Under such schemes, not only they are swindling our tax money, but they are also empowering the unelected regime by aiding it in its propaganda activities.”

Colonel Debessai Gide, the commander of Sawa military camp indicated that electricity, accommodation, road maintenance, and other logistics have been prepared for the guests.

The organizers expect 4500 and 3500 visitors from Eritrea and abroad, respectively.

  • Kaddis

    I heard some 22 million students are in shcool in different levels in Ethiopia. And learned through time – being a graduate doesn’t show you can work: it only shows you can learn. As Saay says – although the economy should be pushed to absorb the unemployed ( the uneducated included ) – employment is a personal decision. And the new generation, at least in Addis, looks more creative and prefers to be self employed, open business etc…
    Quality of eduation is a huge issue and it is still a concern. However – I dont agree with people who compare Dergue’s 3000 graduates from all over Ethiopia – where only the very top can pass Matriculation. The system was not based on quality or better facility ( I believe our current status is much better) – but only the students were the most talented plus hard working to make it to the University. Ethiopians with Eritrean origin were also among the educated class…not sure about now.


  • Goytom

    the article said

    According to Eritrean opposition sources, flying the foreign born
    Eritreans to Sawa yearly has become a lucrative business for a few
    Eritreans who masquerade as social workers in some Western countries.

    Most of the time, the group travel expenses is paid for by the
    welfare states under the guise of extra-curricular activities and the
    “need to introduce youth to their ancestral countries.”

    I happen to think these “Eritreans who masquerade as social workers” are members of pfdj or strong supporters of pfdj. they;re all pfdj to me.

    • Truth

      1) Sawa is not yearly but bi-yearly and 2) these kids are flying to Eritrea under the guise of “introducing them to their ancestral countries”. That is what is occuring. Most likely they’re not limited to just going to Sawa. I’m sure they’re visiting other locations while there, thus their mandate is being fulfilled. The opposition should pick their battles and this is not one of them. Stupid if you ask me.

  • saay7

    Selamat Dean:

    1. University of Asmara was founded in 1958 and it is graduating nobody. Addis Abeba University was founded in 1962 and it just graduated 8,000 students. The history of Isaias rule is to take Eritrea backwards: he has accomplished something Haile selasse and Mengistu didnt: close our one internationally recognized university. Do you have an “lol” for that?

    2. I am an advocate of trade schools (technical colleges and institutes) as a supplement (an add-on) and not as a replacement for universities.

    3. I don’t know how old you are or if you remember the Soviet Union and its command economy guaranteeing 100% employment and mocking homelessness in Washington DC? We all know how that imploded, don’t we? The Chinese had the good sense to know that while they have no intention to give up political power and will monopolize it, they will free up the economy. The whole Isaiasawi economic principle is based on command economy: guaranteed employment for all, with one catch: the State decides where everybody is employed. Today’s Eri-TV had graduates from the Medical school (pharmacy technicians, healthcare techs, etc) and the report concluded with the news that the graduates will now go to their “assignments.” That is command economy pure and simple with the State owning human resources.

    If you want to have a real debate, we can have this conversation. But if you want to join the kkkkk and lol squad, let’s move on as many of us have debated the tragedy of Asmara University since it closed.


    • haileTG

      Hey Saay,

      THE PFDJ boot camp Technical collages, only accredited by the ministry of education, don’t meet the regulatory criteria as set by independent external bodies. They often flash a cursory and surface level report written by Norwegian visitors who wanted to help refugees from Eritrea in their country. Even by their friendly and light weight investigation, they found that NO CERTIFICATE of DEGREE or DIPLOMA has ever been issued by these institutions (lack of ink mix chemicals that print the embossed paper!).

      University being the closest to Liberal Education philosophy, Wikipedia quotes the American Association for the Advancement of Science on liberal education in this way: “Ideally, a liberal education produces persons who are open-minded and free from provincialism, dogma, preconception, and ideology; conscious of their opinions and judgments; reflective of their actions; and aware of their place in the social and natural worlds. Liberally educated people are skeptical of their own traditions; they are trained to think for themselves rather than conform to higher authorities.”

      Technical and vocational schools may be regarded to promote the philosophy of Progressive Education in the sense that they educate for the “future”. These distinctions are at a much deeper philosophical levels and not meant to undercut administrative diligence as regards collaboration and accreditation that should form the basic competence of higher educational institutions.

      PFDJ is z’agole enquwqquho and unlikely to hatch in any of such worthy performances.


  • Goytom

    so much for self-reliant philosophy if you are manipulating foreign social service programs as an economic development policy, is there anything that pfdj does that is not immoral or unethical or antithetical to their professed beliefs? i have never seen such a hypocritical organization as pfdj.

  • Tesfabirhan WR

    ዝኸበርኩም ደቂ ዓዋተ

    ኣብ ኮለጅ ክምህር እንከለኹ ሓንቲ ጓል ኣርባዕተ ትበሃል ካብ ዚበለትኒ ዘስደምም ዘረባ እየ ሎሚ ከዋግዓኩም። ምውጋዕ ብዙሕ ኣይክእልን እየ፡ ኪነግረኩም ክብለኩም ይሕሸኒ።

    ኣጋጣሚ ኣብ ካፍተርያ ንምሳሕ ብሓንሳብ እናኸድና ከለና ኣብ ክትዕ ንኣቱሞ ክንወሓሓጥ ስለዘይከኣልና ብምስቁርቃር፤ ኣነ ዘሕዝነኒ ትብለና ሐራይስከ ንብላ አንታይ አዩ ነገሩ…. አስከ ኩምነገር አንተለዎ በልና’ሞ ጽን በልና። ኣንፈትና ብምቕያር ሃየስከ አንተበልናስ ቃል ብቃላ

    “መን’ዩ ክትካና!”

    ዘስደምም’ዩ ብሓቂ ነገሩ ሕውስውስ ይብለና

    ብከመይ ኪንብላ እኮ ናይ ግድን አንተነበረ ባስገርሞት ኢና ጠሚትናያ ትም ዝበልና።

    ብዝኮነ ናብዛ ሓርበኛ ተጋዳሊት ዚነበረት ኣብ ንኡስ ዕድመኣ ቀለም ከይጸገበት ናብ መዳ አያ ተሰሊፋ። ደረጃ ትምህርታ እኮ ብልክዕ እንተዘይፈለትክዎ ንኮለጅ ዝኸውን ኣይኮንን። እንተቲ መዝነታ’ሞ ፐርሰናል ኦፊሰር’ያ። መቸም ኣብ ህንዳውያን ዝበዝሕዎ ከጋትም ዝክእል ሽግራት ርዱእ’ዩ::

    ከም’ዚ ኣብ ላዕሊ ዝተገልጸ ኮይኑ ሓላፍነታን ዓቕማን ኣብቲ ትሰርሓሉ ኮለጅ ዓመታዊ ከባቢ 300-400 ብዲግርን ዲፕሎማን አንከመርቕ ወትሩ ተዓታቒት እያ። ኣብ ቅድሚ ዓይና ባዕላ ተቐቢላ እተመርቖም ኣማኢት ድሮ ረሲዓስ፣ እሞ ድማ ትሕቲ ዓሰርተ ከይከውንስ ብዲግርን ዲፕሎማን አረ ብማስተርስ ውን ኪሚረቑ ተዓጣቒት እያ ቀንዲ፣ ኣብ ማእከል ምሁራን ከምኡ እንክትብል እቲ ዓሰርተ ዘይምምልኣ ድዩ ትብል’ሞ ኩሉ ነገሩ የተሓሳስበካ። ኣነኳ ድፍር ይብላ ስለዝነበርኩስ እዋእ ካብ ምባል ዓዲ ኣይweዓልኩን ይብለኩም።

    ነዚ ዘምጻእክዎ ኣስኮላ ድሕሪ ሳዋ እንታይ አዩ ዋጋኡ ብዓይኒ አቶም መራሕቲ ኢና ዝብሉ ህግደፋውያን ንምባል እዩ።

    ኣይተ ዲክታተር ኢሳይያስ ዓሰርትው ክልተ 12+2 አዮም ዝብልዎ እታ ከመርቓ ነብሱ አትገብረሉ ድማ 12+1 እያ። ካቡ ንላዕሊ ጽጋብ ዲዩ ዝበሃል ብዓይኒ ጭፍራ ህግደፍ?


  • haileTG

    Excellent value-added news reporting AT. Actually, I thought it was held every bi-yearly Or every other year. But the funding component is a revelation and as such I am sure it would be fought vigorously every where. The YPFDJ brats can’t be allowed to do this with tax-payers money of countries they ridicule in favor of a regime running a slavery system (not even feudalism:). This would require an insider information and may prove difficult to find the main switch location to stop all of it. Meaning, if different individual school districts are funding it, potentially there may as many sources as the participants and hence the main switch might be each country’s departments of Education or Justice&Rehabilitation or the likes that can ban it at a policy level. The YPFDJ must learn to be self sufficient and get a job, save up and pay out of own pocket to show support of the genocidal regime. As mama Tsgie said in Rome, er itrea nay medanagerti aykonetn!!!!


    • saay7

      Haile TG:

      If you want to have your mind blown, consider this: the month of Sawa graduation in Eritrea coincides with Addis Abeba University graduations in Ethiopia:

      Every year, the Eritrean regime show too-young-to-wear-uniform kids marching up and down in military formations, where commencement addresses are given by men in uniform, and the future is frighteningly scripted: everybody knows which part of the cog s/he is in the machine:

      Every year, the Ethiopians show (this year it was 8,000 of them) normal citizens with their caps and gowns (this year it was 8,000 of them) exercising their right to completely ignore the civilian commencement speaker (this year it was the Prime Minister) as he completely avoids the subject that is in every graduates head: will I be able to get a job.

      It is the difference between indentured and free people. Freedom includes an unscripted future and uncertainty.


      • Dean Moe B

        lol….talk about twisted logic.

        First you seem to conveniently omit the hundreds of Graduates, cap and gown in tow, that just graduated in the various Eritrean post secondary institutions. Instead you get on your soapbox about “ohh so young kids in sawa…”

        Second, as if the above doesn’t give enough insight into your warped point of view, you want people to believe that Ethiopian are “free”. I suppose you also want us to believe that ethiopia doesn’t have countless journalist, bloggers, “opposition” members in jail, and that ethiopia isn’t a one party state with one party at the helm since 1991.

        Oh yea…ethiopians are sooo much freer then Eritreans because they are able to “freely protest the regime”….we’ll just ignore the number of occasions in which the regime gunned down, brutally beat down, and arrested tens of thousands of protesters when they actually posed any threat to the regime.

        I think you’re the only who has their mind blown

        • Papillon

          Dean Moe B,

          ህግደፍ መንደፍ ቁሩብከ ሕፊር ኣይትብልን ዲኻ? ወያነ ህዝቦም የማሓድሩ ኣለው: ብኣንጻሩ ኢሳያስ ሃገር ናብ ጸልማት ከእቱ ይውዕል ኣሎ:: ህግደፍ ትባሃሉ ሰባት እንታይ ዓይነት ደናቑር ምዃንኩም ክርዳኣኒ ኣይክእልን እዩ:: ኣብ ኢትዬጵያ መረጻ ይካየድ ሰለማዊ ሰልፊ ይካየድ ሰብ ተተኣሲሩ ናብ ፍርዲ ይቐርብ ቤተ ሰቡ ይበጽሕዎ ናብ ወጻኢ ክኸይድ ዝደለየ ሰብ ዝኽልክሎ ሰብ የለን:: ኣብ ኤሪትራ ኣብ ዝሓለፈ ፪፫ ዓመት ሰላማዊ ሰልፊ ዝባሃል ነገር ተገይሩ ኣይፈልጥን: ሰብ ተተኣሲሩ ኣሽንኳይዶ ቤተሰቡ ክበጽሕዎ ወይካኣ ኣብ ፍርዲ ክቐርብ ኣበይ ከምዘሎ ኸማን ኣይፍለጥን እዩ:: ኣብ ኢትዬጵያ ልዕሊ ፴ ዝኾና ዩኒቨርሲታትን ኮለጃትን ኣለዋ: ኢሳያስ ግን ነታ ሓንቲ ኣብ ዓለም ትፍለጥ ዝነበረት ዩኒቨርሲቲ ኣዕንዩ ዘይጠቕማ ኣብ ዓለም ኣክሪዲተሽን ዘይብለን ቅንጥብጣብ ኮለጃት ከፊቱ:: ኣብ ደርጊ እዋን ኣስመራ አታ ዝበለጸት ከተማ አያ ኔራ ሕጂ ግን ኣስመራ ኣሽንኳይዶ ምስ ኣዲስኣበባ ወይካኣ ባህርዳር ወይካኣ መቐለ ምስ ዓዲግራት ከማን ኣይትዋዳደርን እያ: እዚ እዩ እቲ ማዓንጣና ለይትን ቀትርን ኩምትር ዘብለና ዘሎ ሓቒ:: ህግደፍ ግን ድሁላትን ደንቆሮታትን ለኽባጣትን ሓስወንትን መጣቓዕትን ስለዝኾንኩም እቲ ሓቂ ኣይስቆረኩምን እዩ: ንኢሳያስ ንድሕሪት ምጉምባሕ ስለዝመረጽኩም ንሱኻኣ ንዒቑኩምን ዋጋ ከምዘይብልኩም ፈሊጥኩም እዩ

          • Helen

            Papillon: Thank you brother. Donkoro kulushab donkoro eyu.

          • Rahwa T


            Papillon is “gual Hewan” like you.

        • saay7

          Selamat Dean:

          You didn’t address your post to anyone, despite our repeated requests for awatistas to please do so (I am specially addressing you Cousin Hope.) It doesn’t take much effort to say “Dear so-and-so” or “Selam so-and-so”: it eliminates confusion and it forces people to be civil. Even Nitricc is beginning to.

          Now, then, Dean…

          (a) If there was a graduation from University of Asmara, I must have missed it. Can you give me a link to it? Not from a college or a high school, or a technical institute. But a university. This will help us with a tufaH-with-tufaH comparison.

          (b) One of the criticisms of African countries is that their universities produce graduates that their economies cannot support. This criticism is so valid that I in the 1990s advocated for prioritizing technical colleges over universities. But not at the cost of eliminating the sole university we have.

          (c) the “free”, “not free” was not supposed to be a political assessment but an economic one. (I don’t take a backseat to anyone in my assessment that Ethiopia is politically not a free state but an oligarchy and, in fact, a one-party state. A better run one party state compared to Eritrea, but still a one party state.) But it is economically more free and the contrast I was making is this: Is it better to have the freedom to be unemployed (which is what will happen to many (most) of the 8,000 who graduated from Addis University) or the guaranteed employment in some compulsory service (which is what will happen to all the graduates of Sawa?)


      • Eyob Medhane


        Gondar University has celebrated its 60th year (diamond?!) Jubilee this year with commencing the service of huge hospital. What was the name of that Eritrean psychiatrist of Gondar University graduate, who Isayas arrested and made disappear. I wish he was there in attendance with his old school mates…… :-(

        • Papillon

          Hey Eyob,

          His name is Rev. Dr. Fitsum Gebrengus. He is the most brilliant Eritrean I have ever met in my life. No kidding! His time to shine will come and will inspire millions of people. People like him are extraordinary and “unfortunate” circumstances happen to them for a reason. He is our own Dr. Viktor Frankl.

          • haileTG

            Hello Pappillon and Eyob

            Fr. Dr. Fitzum Ghebre-Negus. In chains for his faith since November 2004. He has never been charged with any offense nor allowed visitation by family. No reports of his whereabouts.

          • Eyob Medhane

            Hi Haile, Pappillon

            Thank you to both of you. A lot of people speak very highly of him. I wish I had a chance to know him. When I saw the jubilee celebrations on TV, he came to my mind. Do you have anything that he has written for me to read on? Thank you again…

        • Nitricc

          It gets me. It is always how many Universities, never about the quality of the education. It is about many years service; never where the graduates are and what was the end result and analysis of the objectivity of the higher education institute. If I was that ugly PM of Ethiopia; I shut down that useless medical school turn it in to vocational school or I will stick few dynamites around the building. Africa needs vocational schools not toothless universities. Unless you came up with a system that stops brain draining what is the point if your graduates are leaving you and you are stuck with cost? The people of Ethiopia are paying to educate their “so-called” doctors and the doctors are serving the people of Botswana, South Africa, the USA, allover the world but the people of Ethiopia.
          So, what is the point having the Medical school let alone celebrating about it?
          I guess when you are all about bragging and complacent like the Ethiopians are, it impossible to think objectively.

          • Semere Andom


            Here again one of your multiple Sybil personality in display. Education is not only about getting jobs. A country is better off with educated population eve if unemployed. What they do not teach you in the YPFDJ during the Sawa trips is that education produces better citizenship, citizens who defend their country not only by going to war with a neighboring countries, but by also standing up to their own government. But PFDJ since Gheldi days advocated for vocational schools and the closure of Asmara U is not accidental as many people seem to think, it was by design, it was EPLF’s idea of education is auto mechanics, electricians, carpenters and agri technologists. These trade people will fix the cars of the leaders, and make and maintain all the machinery of the regime just like a robot does. Ethiopia with its excess educated people will leave Isaias’s and Nitricc’s Eritrea to dust. The government cannot employ every graduate person but as the market is slowly opens up becomes free it will fix the employment issue, governments are lousy at doing this.

            So excess smart people, with access to higher education Ethiopia will be better off. In 2002 a Ugandan writer visited Asmara and he was blown away by the lack of critical thinking among the Eritrean educated class. He wrote that a Ugandan with grade 8 education thinks more critically than an Eritrean with Masters. This was published in, the toothless website.

            Eritreans had better access to higher education when Eritrea was not independent, of course they were discriminated for employment, but the intellectuals and the current leaders were educated by Ethiopia, 23 years after independence Eritrea’s only higher education, which survived the Haile- Slassie and Degi was closed by IA and you guys celebrated it

            The problem that Ethiopia will have with the educated and unemployed is a problem that I wish we had. So if someone who prays for Kebessa extinction for their disobedience to mother Ethiopia beats his chest in pride it is because he has something to show for, what I do not understand is while you are enslaved by the USA ( the enemy of your people) you are beating your chest, “aythazuni”

            PFDJ and its precursor, the EPLF are against higher education, they want vocational skilled people to oil the manchinery of the regime both in terms of the technical skill and the lack highly educated critical thinkers and even in this fields if you happen to become an intellectual like Dejen, a name that you run away kme meskel zreaye seytan your fate will be prison to break that intellectual knack

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Brazil 2014


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