The prisoners of Nakura 19.2.01 Aida Kidane

Many Eritreans have heard of the prison Island of Nakura, especially in old songs and
proverbs. This prison is situated in Dahlak archipelago. While standing on the main land of
Dahlak Kebir, by the beautiful and only hotel, it is about 1 km away. It took me over one hour
motor boat ride from Massawa in 2000, in courtesy of Eritrean Shipping Lines.
There are three big war ships sunk by the Russians near it, and was a military station by
the Derg. I was not allowed to visit the prison, but another visitor saw it and explained how
horrible it was. There are rooms underground, in this scorching heat and long nails protruding
on both sides of the tiny wall that the prisoner could not rest on either side. There were
numerous chains too.
In 26 august 1994, I was talking to a very knowledgable elderly man in Segeneiti, Aboi
Keshi Tesfamariam Habtezgi. He was so keen to share his historical notes that this was an
unexpected finding to me. He asked me to share it with all Eritreans, remember our heroes.
He had hidden many documents at Derg time and let me copy names of the prisoners of
Nakura. I have audio recorded many valuable history from him too.
These following list of prisoners' names is derived from an Amhric book called Ye Tarik
Deset. Timing is pre 1900.political prisoners of the Eritrean elites too dangerous for the
Italians to freely administrate Eritrea. The names found are
1 Kentiba Nasheh W Mikel, Hamassien 2, Kentiba Hagos
3, Kentiba Medhin 4, Kentiba Hayelom
5, Kentiba Gere Mikel Iyesus 6, Dejazmach Mengesha Asgedom
7, Kentiba Hamed, Shum of Habab, son of Kentiba Hassen
8, Chika Shum Tsefu' W Haimanot 9, Haneta Temelso Goshu
10, Ato Mesfin W Mikel 11, Ato W Mikel Kaleb
12, Beremberas Hagos Andemikel 13, Kegnazmach Welde Kidan G Sadek
14, Dejazmach Hadgembes Gulwet 15, Kentiba Arey
16 Kentiba Kifleyesus Gofar 17, Kegnazmach Tesfatsion Habteselasie
18, Blatta Tesfu Nebaray 19, Dej Welde mikel
20, Grazmach Gizaw Wendafrash 21, Balambaras Kifle Weldeyesus
22, Dej. Abraha Haile 23, Balambaras Meshasha Negusie
24, Ato Hagos wedi Abdera 25, Lij Asfaha Gebreab
26, Ato Adgoi Kahsai 27, Lij Ekubazgi
28, Ato Ikud wedi Zemat 29, Dej Negusie G Meskel
30, Lij Tesfai Gebreab 31, Lij Abraha Hagos
32, Lij Habte Selus Hailu 33, Lij Embaye Wendaferash
34, Lij Beyene Biru 35, Kegnaz. Fiseha Mogos
36, Lij Alula Godefa, of Gura' 37, Lij Kahsai Godefa, of Gura'
38, Kentiba Emnetu 39, Lij Berhanu Hailu
40, Kentiba Gidei 41, Kegnz Hagos
42, Lij Asfaha, Segeneiti (kentiba La'lewy) 43, Bahr Negasi Fantaye
44, Kentiba Eman 45, Dej Tesema
46, Blata Tesfai Kahsu 47, Blata Tesfai Netseraab
48, Kentiba Haylu Gebrai 49, Lij Tedla Haylu
50, She'ka Girmai 51, Keshi Semere Mehari
52, Keshi Gebreab 53, Lij Khasai Abey -neyru
54, Kentiba Araya Weldai 55, Blatta Gerezgher Gilai
56, Graz. Yigzaw Yohannes 57, Lij Geremedhin Ekubazgi, Segeneiti
58, Bashai Tesfai Berhane 59, Beshai Habtom
60, Dej. Mehrai 61, Bahr Negasi 'Cherom.
There were numerous more in that prison, some from Methat and Saho areas. One, Musa is
still remembered for his daring and bravery to escape and cross to land.
Source from another book, in Tigrina "Kedamot jeganu Eritrean bahlena" by Isak Yosef,
Eritrea, 1997, page 51 titled
Name lists of the prisoners of Nakura.
These name lists to follow were
1, Taken from Asmera or their villages and claimed to be held prisoners in Nakura but had
2, Those taken to Italy and never returned,
3, Those executed or died of illness in Nakura
4, Those who escaped from Nakura prison and live in exile,
5, and those who made ammendments with the Italians and returned as civilians in their land.
We should not doubt that there more names whose we could not find. Because, elders of
Eritrea have narrated that the Nakura prisoners were over 300.
Notice, in Nakura those who lost their lives in its sands, pained by bites of snakes or
scorpions, those who were wounded and bled to death, those killed by hanging, shot and
killed, those crippled by sickness of Rih, those who died of thrust and hunger, are not only the
above numbered 300 only. Hopefully, other researchers will find the other names and add to
the Eritrean heroes.
Some names or villages may not rightly written or voiced and we hope the reader will adjust
These prisoners were administrators, religious persons, supporters, etc....
Because of this the Italian colonizer was extremely disturbed. He was mistrustful and
disliking the Eritreans. The Italian officers were constantly receiving telegrams, military
commands, oral tegsats from Italy.
At last, it was said, "From now on, a prison for Eritreans in that hot area, near the harbour
must be rebuilt with care". This way, hundreds of Eritreans for many years were liquidated in
this new prison of Assab as replacement of Nakura, was opened.
Several of the 240 named prisoners are
Name Village Province
1,Dej Mesfin Dej W Mikel Hazega Hamassien
2, Dej Mahray Hagos Wegera Akele Guzai
3, Dej Hadgembes Gelwet Adi Teklezan Hamassien
4, Dej Tesemma Imam Tseazega Hamassien
5, Dej Negusie Gebre Tsadek Areza Serae
6, Dej Kifleyesus Gofar Dekuno Reda' Hamassien
7, Kentiba Arey wedi Weldu 'Kushet Hamassien
8, Kentiba Hamid Hidad Habab Sahel
9, Kentiba Hailu Gebrai Hazega Hamassien
10, Kentiba Hayelom
11, Kentiba Manna Idiley Deki Shehai Anseba
12, Kentiba Bahta Ferzun Dukuno Reda' Hamassien
13, Kentiba Habtyes Habte Selasie Anseba Hamassien
14, Kentiba Teku' Deki Shehai Hamassien
15, Kentiba Nasheh Lijam Adi Teklezan Hamassien
16, Kentiba Aman
17, Kentiba Gebre Mikel Melezenai Hamassien
18, Kentiba Kidane 'Ukbit Debre Sina Hamassien
19, Kentiba W Giorgis Teklai 'Arato Akele Guzai
20, Kentiba Debas Hailu Hazega Hamassien
21, Kentiba Hedad Hassen Habab Bet Asgede
22, Kentiba Medhin Sahle Meshal Akele Guzai
23, memhir W Giorgis (Abemnet) Gedam Debre Sina Hamassien
24, Keshi Tequabo
25, Sheik Osman Naib Base' Semhar
26, Sheik Ibrahim 'Chira Kurkure
27, Sheik Idris Nur Keren Bet Asgede
28, Sheik Abubaker Ali Bet Keren Adi Tekleyes
29, Sheik Idris Mohammed Habab Bet Asgede
30, Sheik Fekak Ali Keren Habab
31, Bahr Negasie 'Churum Adi Gehad Akele Guzai
32, Blata G Zghair Gilai Tsada Kristian Hamassien
33, Blatta Bachena
34, Blata Tesfa Nesereab Hemberti Hamassien
35, Blatta Men Ameno Tesfai Tseazega Hamassien
36, Mrs Tsa'du Menameno Hemberti Hamassien
37, Fitwerari Habte Sion Sebhatu Hemberti Hamassien
38, Fit Debalkaw Baryagabir Ha'ley
39, Fit Gurmu Adyabo Tigrai
40, Fit Sebhat Bekhit Afdeyu Hamassien
41, Fit Selomon
42, Fit Meles Gebrezgi
43, Fit Zerefa Tesfazgi
44, Kegnazmach Gebre Tsadik Ekubazgi
45, Kegn Gebre Yohannes Demoz
46, Kegn Welde Kidan
47, Grazmach Manna Gaim
48, Graz Tesfamikel
49, Graz Gebreyesus
50, Graz Hagos
51, Graz Hadgu Tesfa Mariam
52, Graz Tekle Goshu
53, Graz Abraha Gebre Negus
54, Belamberas Yilma Dej K Yesus Dembelas Serae
55, Balmb Tek'e Weldu
56, Balmb Gagna Hailu Tselot Hamassien
57, Balmb Zerai Ekubazgi Afelba Akele Guzai
74, Ato Mohammed Haji Akordet Akordet
75, Ato Mohammed Ali Osman Buri Denkel Denkel
76, Ato Mohammed Said Abdella Inda Lalish Serae
77, Ato Mosazgi Sebhatu Adi Nehbai Serae
78, Ato Mohammed Nur Mantai Base' Semhar
79, Ato Hambir Adi Gebrai Hamassien
80, Ato Selomon Kifle Tseazega Hamassien
81, Ato Birre Hailai Da'ro 'Paulos Hamassien
82, Ato Tesfa Da'ro Kune'at Serae
90, Ato Eyob Getahun Adwa Tigrai
91, Ato Abdella Lehat
92, Ato Hamed 'A'ka 'Umer
97, Ato Abo Zaul Zaul Hamassien
110, Ato G Medhin Ekubazgi Segeneiti Akele Guzai
128, Ato Tewelde Medhin Gebrai Debre Sina Hamassien
134, Ato Adgoi Kinfe Imba Derho Hamassien
161, Ato Adgoi Gurja Deda Hamassien
162, Ato Asgedom G Dengil Habela Hamassien
163, Ato Ahmed Elos Bet Elos Keren
164, Ato Izaz Ali Bet Adi Tekleyes Keren
165, Ato Idris Abubaker
166, Ato Gilaizgi
167, Ato Garza TsigeYohannes Habela Hamassien
168, Ato W Mikel Kelb Anseba Hamassien
169, Ato W Mikel Fiseha Awhene 'Arato Akele Guzai
170, Ato Zemat Ikut Methat
171, Ato Debesai Haileyesus Habel Hamassien
172, Ato Fetaw Mer'u Berakit Akele Guzai
173, Ato Mohammed Mahmud Habab Keren
174, Ato Hibret Ekubazgi Bet Asgede Habab
201 Ato Abebe Welotai from Wello Ethiopia
230, Ato Semere Kidane
237, Ato Beyene Tesfa
238, Ato Berhe Gebre Amlak
239, Haleka Tekle Sa'ol
240, Ato Meles Eshetu