In memory of Tsegereda Woldeghiorghis

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Adulis, 2013, Visit to the archeological site. Governor Tsegereda Woldeghiorghis with Alfredo Castiglioni

In memory of Tsegereda Woldeghiorghis. CeRDO director of the archeological excavation site of Adulis, Mr. Angelo Castiglioni and archeologist Serena Massa tell us about her.

Last Monday, on the eve of the Assumption holiday, the Governor of the Northern Red Sea Zone, Mrs. Tsegereda Woldeghiorghis passed away in Eritrea.

She was born 57 years ago in Mendefera, a city in the Southern area of Eritrea, and in the South Tsegereda had remained to work, after 1991, year of the Country’s Independence, for the administration of Massawa, as a Governor.

Now her remains rest in peace in Asmara, in the Patriots Cemetery.  

A huge number of people, friends, acquaintances, ministers have paid their tribute during her state funeral – President Isaias Afwerki was present –  to a kind, yet combative woman, who died too early.

As a girl, like many other Eritrean young girls, she did not avoid danger. She had fought against Ethiopia, during the long war for the Liberation of the Country (1961-1993). A fight which had begun in the years when she was just a child in Mendefera. The city’s name itself, “no one dared”, conveys the fierce spirit and the determination not to let foreign invasions in.

In 1978, at eighteen, Tsegereda joined the EPLF (Eritrean People’s Liberation Front). She fought to expel Menghistu Heilè Mariam, who was then the leader of Ethiopia, from her homeland.

Tsegereda loved Massawa, a city, which still today shows the signs of the serious wounds, those that were inflicted during the air attack by Ethiopian forces, shortly before the liberation of the Country and of its Capital.    

She was interested and participated in all initiatives, which regarded history, above all the history of Massawa and the nearby areas.

So, each year, since the Italian archeological mission started in 2011 to bring to light Adulis, the “African Pompei”, she would meet with the group of university researchers.

Among these were Angelo Castiglioni, with his brother Alfredo, who, sadly died in 2016, of CeRDO – Centre for Research on the Eastern Desert, and Archeologist Serena Massa from the Milan Cattolica University.  

 “In these days of vacation”, tells Eritrealive Mr. Angelo Castiglioni, “I was struck by the sudden news of the death of Governor Tsegereda. I did not expect it, though I knew she was ill”.

 “I remember her” he continues “when, during our missions, she would come and visit the excavation site in Adulis. She was interested to see the progress of our work. Her questions were intelligent and relevant”.

 “She used to tell us”, remembers Angelo Castiglioni, “that the archeological excavations would have revealed the past history of her Country. And she smiled in saying this”.

 “I saw a smile illuminating her face last January, at the end of the archeological mission”. “And it is with this smile” he concludes” that I remember her and want to continue remembering her, forever”.   

The archeologist from the Milan Cattolica University Ms. Serena Massa, also saddened for the tragic loss, explains me that Tsegereda was an important reference point for their yearly missions.  

A brave, lively woman, who often spoke to us in Italian, she adds.

 “I had spoken to her not only about the archeological excavations, but also about the meaning that such site could have had for the economy of the region”. Issues that the Governor had much at heart, she explains. 

“In fact, she believed in the importance of good relations between the Italian mission and local communities. She did all she could to foster this.

 “Beyond her official role” continues Serena Massa “I very much admired her profile as a woman. An authoritative person, capable to manage the various situations with calm and intelligence”.  

Great sadness emerges from the words of Angelo Castiglioni and Serena Massa, who, with their team of work had a chance to know and work with governor Tsegereda – a capable, intelligent, determined and gentle woman,   and a friend.




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