Sahel and Sawa, Eritrea's Symbols of Pride
By: Adem Berhan
February 4, 2004

It was in the mountainous region of Sahel, Eritrea, where despite being outnumbered and out gunned Eritrean freedom fighters had fiercely fought against and finally rendered the deadly blow to the Ethiopian army of occupation. For Eritreans and our friends, Sahel will always be remembered as the place that heralded the beginning of the end of Eritrea's foreign occupation. Sahel beamed the shining light of hope against what appeared to be a gloom and doom background. If only the mountains there could speak about the countless heroic deeds of our freedom fighters. For Eritrea's enemies, however, Sahel was like a nightmare. Ethiopia's superior ground, mechanized, naval and air forces were rendered ineffective and could not stop the faltering of their offensives, one after another.
That was then during Eritrean struggle for independence. Now emerges Sawa in post-independent Eritrea. Different times and circumstances. But, there is a similarity in symbolism. Sawa is where the Eritrean national service draftees train. But, Sawa is more than just being a military training center. The draftees therein undergo academic and vocational training. Sawa has become one of the most important national institutions. The valor of and crucial role played by Sawa's graduates in repulsing Ethiopia's recent war of aggression against Eritrea were glorious. Through their battlefield performance our Sawa graduates have demonstrated that they are a formidable part and parcel of Eritrean Defense Forces.
Even though no ground battle took place in Sawa during Ethiopia's recent war of invasion the Ethiopian air force had tried and failed to level the center to the ground. Sawa had been identified as one of the Ethiopian government's major military and propaganda targets for an obvious reason: to subdue Eritrean will and power to fight. But, Sawa, like Sahel, still stands and continues to produce fighting forces that will safeguard Eritrea's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Sawa has become a source of national pride for Eritreans. As for Eritrea's enemies, Sawa, like Sahel, has become their nightmare. Sahel produced our "Yikaalo", the generation that brought about our independence and Sawa is producing our "Warsay", the generation that must safeguard the independence. Sahel and Sawa have a special place in the hearts, minds and souls of Eritreans and our friends. We shall always celebrate what Sahel and Sawa represent, Eritrean pride.