A 64-year old engineer, born in a village in Eritrea and who came to the United States in 1979, has received the Republican Party nomination to run for a seat in the U.S. Congress this November. Ogbazghi Sium will oppose incumbent Democrat Betty McCollum to represent a district that includes the midwest city of St. Paul, Minnesota.
When he was a child, Obi Sium had to walk barefoot four and a half kilometers from the village of Adengoda, Eritrea to a three room school. But he earned a civil engineering degree in 1968 from Haile Selassie I University, in Addis Ababa and became a hydraulic engineer in charge of the Technical Office of the Water Supply Department for the Municipality of Asmara, Eritrea, the following year. He continued his education in the United States, earning a Master of Science degree in mechanics and hydraulics from the University of Iowa. He has worked as a water resources engineer in the United States ever since and has been with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the past 28 years.
Explaining why he has decided to run for election, he told the VOA Tigrigna program’s Minia Afeworki, “Freedom and individual liberties are the foundations of the American Experiment. I love what America stands for and I want to pay back my debt of gratitude by serving her in the United States Congress." Obi Sium says if elected his understanding of African culture, politics and natural resources, will help him encourage Congress to have a better grasp of African issues and how essential it is to have good will among African nations. He says he also believes that having grown up very close to the culture and politics of the Middle East, he can also help Congress grapple with the issues emerging from that region. (click the link above to hear Minia Afeworki’s interview with Obi Sium for the VOA Tigrigna program’s “Eritreans in America")