Asmara & Mai Nefhi Eritrea - June 5th 2005
Around 10:00 in the morning I plan
to take the bus the the Corea Housing Complex to go to Mai Nefhi with Feshaye
and his two kids, Hiab and Elilta. I have to wait for a whole. Many buses are
passing, but not the number 1 or 12 to Sembel. While sitting a man attracts my
attention. "there is your bus, number 1" I ask him how he knew where I
was going. "I remember you from last year", he answers.
With Terhas and Feshaye I have
a second breakfast. I already had kicha and coffee with Gebrehiwot and his
family. Terhas invites me to eat scrambled eggs with bread, and we drink
tea. Eating is a social event in Eritrea, and refusing is a bit of an
insult. For the children the visit of "Baba Hans" means he
brings some little presents and some excitement in their lives.
At 11:00 we are on our way to
Mai Nefhi. Godaif, Road to Mendefera, take the road to Himberti (which branches off the road to Mendefera at Adi Guadad)
and after some 15 kilometers the
sign with Mai Nefhi points to the right. The road is only a few months
old, and an excellent track for bicycle racing & training. After
another 10 kilometers a sign points to Hotel Mai Nefhi.
The water reservoir of Mai
Nefhi is surrounded by bougainvilleas and large cacti. Some boys approach
me "Money. Money." "Where?", I ask them, as if I do
not understand. They try again, and again. I guess life is difficult for
these young boys in this remote place, but I will only reward a service
(if needed) and not respond to plain begging.
While I took the dangerous
route, close to the edge, Feshaye takes the safe route, farther from the
lake. We meet at the dam and walk from one side to the other, enjoying the
views from both sides of the dam and its water purification installations
that satisfies the water needs Asmara and its environs with 45 thousand
cubic meters water daily.
In front of the hotel we have
a drink, while the children are playing in the small recreation ground,
returning every once and a while to have some water. Feshaye shows me the
Mai Nefhi colleges that have been build here recently. An enormous complex
of schools and prefabricated houses for the students.
At 13:00 we drive back to
Asmara. I get out at Godaif, where I will start a walk back to the center
of Asmara, to have closer look at this part of Asmara, where a lot of new
buildings have been constructed during the last two years. I visit a bar
to drink some water.
With the men I discuss the
consequences of the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict. One of the men, who
introduced himself as Samuel, explains the
situation "no war, no peace" is the worst for the country. Peace
would be better, but even war is better, to kick Woyane out of the still occupied
Eritrean territory. "What else is the solution to get the land that
the EEBC awarded to Eritrea, but is still occupied by Ethiopia? The EU
does not care, the US supports Ethiopia. So war is the only option."
I guess there is another
option, to negotiate, but to negotiate what? Although both Ethiopia and
Eritrea have agreed to abide with whatever decision is arrived at by the
International Court of Justice in The Hague (Article 4.15 of the Algiers
Agreement explicitly states that the decision is final and
binding) Ethiopia rejected the EEBC ruling as "unjust and
illegal" and demands that the boundary commission should
"rectify" their decisions!
I guess it is the moral task
of the Western world, EU and US to help to end this situation, asking, or
if necessary forcing Ethiopia to show some respect for international law
and order. And to show respect for the millions of people that are on the
edge of starvation, because feeding them has a lesser priority for
Ethiopia than feeding their artillery, to get what EEBC did not award
Eritrea has the capacity in
terms of experience and self confidence of its human reserves, machinery
and technology to have bright prospects for economic development, if only
there would be a lasting peace. "We know what to do, how to do it,
and we have the people to do it. We are awaiting the moment that we can
start to do it", Samuel explains to me.
"Ethiopia on the other
hand is undermining the peace process, while at the same time asking to
cancel its debts, and is begging for economic assistance and emergency
aid, pointing to the fact that food shortage has reached an alarming
Breakfast with Luwam and her
grandmother - Asmara Eritrea.
Dam and water reservoir of
Mai Nefhi - Eritrea.
Road to Mendefera "fasten
your seat belts for a safe trip" - Asmara Eritrea.
San Antonio's Church - Godaif
Asmara textile factory -
Godaif Asmara Eritrea.
Asmara textile factory
(detail) - Godaif Asmara Eritrea.
Ewostatewos church - Godaif
New public library - Godaif
Cinema Africa - Godaif Asmara
New residential building -
Gejeret Asmara Eritrea.
Orthodox church - Gejeret Asmara