Tessenei is located 45 kilometer from the Sudanese border and approximately
115 kilometers beyond Barentu. Tessenei is a population center for the western
area, a frontier town with about 18,000 people from various ethnic backgrounds.
The market place buzzes with nomadic traders, Tigrayan merchants and returnees
from Sudan. The main square in front of the mosque is abuzz with many kinds of
different trade, including tailors, cafés, bars and other shops.
There is a busy exchange market where the Saudi Rial and the Sudanese Pound
are exchanged to Eritrean Nakfa's and the food in the 'souk' area has a
distinctly Sudanese flavor. Tessenei is one of the reception points for
returnees from the refugee camps in the Sudan who then proceed to other
On the outskirts of Tessenei to the north are a couple of hills from which
there are exceptional views of the lowlands and the mountains inside Sudan. 10
kilometers to the west of the city is the Barattolo cotton plantation at Adi
Ghider where Hedareb tribes and 1500 ex-fighters and their families farm cotton,
sesame and sorghum. Adi Ghider is an old Italian frontier village, still
containing a few Italian relics, but the village was extensively sacked by the
Ethiopian forces in 2001 in their campaign to sabotage the Eritrean economy.
Tessenei itself was liberated in 1988, having suffered extensive damage
during the was of liberation (1961 -1991). Outside Tessenei just beyond Haykota,
is a monument to Idirs Awate. He fired the first shots in the liberation
struggle in September 1961.
During the rainy season (July to September) most areas around
impassable, but the recently constructed asphalt road from Barentu to Tessenei guarantees a comfortable
trip by road to this border village. Daily buses leave to both Kasala in Sudan,
Barentu and Asmara, the