The National Sport of Eritrea - A Cultural Journey

August 25, 2023

Eritrea, a small country located at the northeastern coast of Africa, is known for its rich cultural heritage and diverse traditions. One of the most significant aspects of Eritrean culture is its national sport, which holds a special place in the hearts of its people.

Eritrean Traditional Sports

In Eritrea, traditional sports are deeply rooted in the country's history and reflect the customs and way of life of its various ethnic groups. These sports, often played during special occasions and festivals, are not just a means of entertainment but also an expression of cultural identity.

Gheda - The Pride of Eritrea

When it comes to the national sport of Eritrea, Gheda stands out as an emblem of strength, agility, and unity. Gheda is a traditional form of wrestling that has been practiced in Eritrea for centuries. It serves as a means of promoting physical fitness, mental resilience, and community solidarity.

Historical Significance

Gheda has deep historical roots in Eritrea, dating back to ancient times. It was not only a popular sport among warriors but also played a pivotal role in resolving conflicts peacefully. Wrestling matches were often organized to settle disputes between communities, avoiding bloodshed and fostering peace.

The Techniques and Rules

Gheda follows a set of traditional techniques and rules that have been passed down through generations. The sport involves two opponents who face each other inside a circular boundary, attempting to throw or pin their opponent to the ground. The wrestler who manages to pin the opposing wrestler's shoulder blades to the ground wins the match.

Gheda in Modern Eritrea

Today, Gheda continues to be a highly cherished and respected sport in Eritrea. It is widely practiced across the country, from small villages to larger cities. The sport has gained recognition at the national level, with organized competitions and tournaments held regularly.

The Cultural Significance

Gheda not only serves as a sport but also plays a significant role in preserving Eritrean cultural heritage. It embodies the values of discipline, respect, and fair play, which are fundamental to Eritrean society. The sport fosters a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect among participants, promoting positive social interactions.

Gheda Festivals

Eritrea celebrates Gheda through vibrant festivals where communities come together to witness and participate in wrestling matches. These festivals provide an opportunity for local talent to showcase their skills and for audiences to embrace their cultural traditions. Gheda festivals are marked with colorful attire, traditional music, and spirited cheers that create an electric atmosphere.

Preserving and Promoting Gheda

To ensure the preservation and promotion of Gheda, Eritrea has taken various initiatives. Sporting organizations and clubs have been established to train aspiring wrestlers, fostering talent development and providing a platform for emerging athletes. Additionally, efforts are being made to introduce Gheda as a competitive sport on an international scale, enabling Eritrean wrestlers to showcase their skills globally.

Preserving Eritrean Identity

Through the preservation of Gheda, Eritrea reinforces its national identity and cultural pride. The sport serves as a symbol of strength, resilience, and unity, representing the values that are deeply ingrained in Eritrean society. It has become an integral part of the country's heritage and an emblem of its rich cultural tapestry.


Gheda, the national sport of Eritrea, exemplifies the country's history and values. It encapsulates the spirit of Eritrean culture, promoting physical fitness, peace, and community bonding. As Eritrea embraces its cultural roots, Gheda stands as a testament to the strength and resilience of its people.

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