Date: Wednesday, 11 January 2017
By: Berhane Woldu
There were two articles written on Hadas Eritrea about Hebo a small village in Segenity sub-zone. The first article talked about how a young man “milked” honey from the mountains of Hebo apparently he has a bee farm. The second article talked about an elderly man in his late 80’s who flattened a mountain into a farm land harvesting abundantly. Reading the article a group of seven decided to see for our self what these village looks like.
Knowing traditional goodness and ancestral greatness united and harmonious Eritrean villagers; one would become filled with the love of Hebo; impressed by the spectacle of her landscape. Landscape is amazingly gorgeous and breathe taking. The mountains are huge some smaller inter-connected one over the other; mountains locked to each other as a mother embracing her children. The massive land is covered in huge granular stone, gray in color. The day brighter sky lovely are wonders of miracle the land is blessed with tranquil and unspoiled climate, fertile plains, hillsides and starkly beautiful mountains. It is an idyllic landscape for oak tree (Daero), fig tree (sagla) and Prickly Pear Cactus fruit (beless) with much of it unique to Eritrea Southern highlands. Drove from Asmara south-east towards Segenity via Dekemhare winding climb up the escarpment to reach Segenity sub-zone.
Segenity is an elegant modern city, high to low-slung structure made of brick and concrete houses designed in minimalist style. Downtown is located at the eastern front of the city; visitors need only a few steps out to find themselves immersed in the market. For visitor’s it is the warm air that struck them first, a clean breeze spiced by the aroma of morning coffee and freshly baked pastry and food sold by the street venders. At the Southernmost tip of Segenity the mountains merge with the open valley. Overlooking this perilous intersection is the main road to the village Hebo where one cores a pathway between rows of humongous mountains, cutting a graceful arc across the Segenity district. On top of a large rock is where one gazes at an austere citadel of Virgin Mary statue that watches and guard Hebo against evil. The sun casting long shadows down the wide canyons that snaked between the mountains; is where you find Hebo with its spectacular high rise building, houses and a magnificent church and Mosque. Hebo is awesomely picturesque it looks more like a post card than a genuine village. The beauty of the village reflects that the village has been acquired by people who knew their duty and had courage to do it. Hebo looks like a walled village surrounded by mountains its primary entrance is a bridge that lay for quarter a kilometer over a river.
Their citizenship is the highest grandeur and they freely give their lives to her as the fairest offering which they could present. The sense of belonging, higher good which comes from having an active role in the village life is what is cherished. Family is an ancient and honorable lineage that gives entrance into that higher form of social relationship. Above all stands the village which gives to its residents their meaning and their value. Family, property and social friends are to be enjoyed at their best only if they form elements in that supreme good, which consist in having a place in the life and activities of the village itself. Hebo life had a quality of intimacy, relatively small, close and personal that they fill connected with one another with same interests centered in the village. Religion in so far as it is not a family matter, it’s the religion of the village and their religious festivals are civic celebration. The means of livelihood are dependent upon the village unlike the city life. For Heboians the village is a life in common; its law is a mode of life the harmony of this common life. Furthermore; the making of the village is the interconnectedness of ethics, sociology, governance and economics.
The iconic Our Lady Perpetual rose into the afternoon sky; the church is the largest in all of the surrounding. Its unusually steep dome and circular sanctuary is Byzantine in style, while its columned marble pronouns are clearly modeled to the classical entryway to the ancient dome of Hagias Sophia located in Istanbul. As you enter it is topped by spectacular pediment of intricate marble relief portraying a host of martyred Eritrean saints. The church’s painted windows with bright sunlight that stream makes vibrant environment that ease the Faithfull attain spiritual wealth. We have visited many cathedrals, but the ambience of Hebo’s church struck us as truly extraordinary. As the village carried on the call for prayer “aksam” loudspeaker reverberated the faithful scurried to Mosque. Informing us; this is a village of unity where religious forces come together live in respect and harmony. Two ethnic groups live in Hebo Saho and Tigrnia. The life of woman is demanding; the Saho woman out run the goats she herds and makes beautiful decorative artifacts. The ladies of Hebo were dresses flawlessly. She wears her olive ebony hair lay on her back nickels around her neck, a neck that reminds one of alabaster. Her skin tone is brown, the skin as smooth as ice-cream; attractive in a way that disturbs your emotions. Saho ladies are graceful with an elegant oval face smooth footed walk of a peasant dress in a colorful Lewet and sandals this is a beauty “Fit for a Queen”
Hebo is a small village of about two hundred house hold it has an orphanage, schools, clean water, electricity and a clinic. Living in Hebo is not a means to an end but an end by itself. Hebo offers experiences full of ecstasy, emotion, tranquility and harmony a legacy that reveals itself in hundreds of historical monuments, an abundance of natural beauty.