By Amanuel Biedemariam,
IT is ironic when Africans from all around gathered in DC to demonstrate against the African leaders that attended the US Africa Leaders Summit; Eritreans gathered for their annual Eritrean Festival and celebrated Eritrea, each other, they passed-on legacy to their children, exchanged ideas, affirmed their commitments to Martyrs and enjoyed.
What makes Eritrean Festival 2014 successful?
The image the anti-Eritrea elements try to concoct is that Eritrean communities are disintegrating, divided and at each other. However, the opposite is true and this event proved them wrong in many ways. It was a success because despite hindrances Eritreans managed to plan and execute fun-filled event that checked all the boxes and beyond.
The location was ideal, expansive, accommodating, family friendly, kid friendly and serene. Parents were able to enjoy as their kids played. The organizers did great job by providing a playground that accommodated all the children. These kids were bonding and making new friends while staying connected to their country in the same way that their parents did.
Food and drinks were plentiful, the services were great, everyone was in a good mood, happy and at-peace determined to enjoy the moment. The servers were accommodating and treated everyone with utmost respect. The event had a feel of a family-picnic that drew people from all around. In that regard it was a smashing success.
The three day event was calendar-full of activities, seminars, lectures, guest-speakers and surprise guests. The Festival featured seminar organized by the Organization of Eritrean American (OEA) that dealt with Eritrea-US-Ethiopian relations. OEA hosted hi level presenter that exchanged ideas with Eritrean Americans about Eritrea-US-Ethiopia related topics. After the seminar Ambassador Girma Asmerom officially opened Festival 2014 accompanied by veteran musicians from Eritrea.
The next day the long awaited seminar with Ambassador Girma Asmerom was held on the festival-ground’s main stage. After an opening statement by Mr. Berhane Ghebrehiwet Charge De’ Affairs Embassy of Eritrea Washington DC, Ambassador Girma gave the audience opportunity and ample time to ask, comment and express their views after which he gave his answers to subjects such as human trafficking, housing, mining, and his tenure as Ambassador at the AU in Ethiopia.
After the seminar musicians from Eritrea entertained the crowd until the fairground’s closing hours. And the festival continued in a concert-hall in DC where Eritreans danced all night until closing. That was the main event where all the musicians that came from Eritrea and local musicians joined to entertain Eritreans from all over. The mix of the musical talent, the energy on the stage and on the dance ground was historic.
On Sunday August 10, the Festival commenced with few words from Ambassador Girma Asmerom about sports and soccer to the youth that competed in the DC area soccer tournaments after which, trophies were handed to the champions. The events continued with several meetings and seminars some of which included friends of Eritrea from the Horn of Africa. They too enjoyed the festivities. After a fun filled weekend the festival ended with music and dance.
The Festival this year will go as one of the most successful events Eritreans held in DC. Generally, the festivals are fun-filled meaningful events. This year however was a turning point because for the first time, the festival was able to successfully merge the needs of families, the children and yet managed to make it educational, informative, inspirational and fun for all the participants. In the process Eritreans sent powerful messages.
For the last 18 years Eritreans faced unrelenting battery from every direction designed to weaken them into submission. Yet, year after year Eritreans find strength to move-on shrugging-off whatever is throwing at them. Undeterred, unfazed by the blabber Eritreans demonstrated unwavering commitment to their nation and the martyrs that paid with their life to bring Eritrea. They enjoyed purpose filled weekend as one like a single family and demonstrating unity.
This was a turning point because it appears as though Eritreans have switched into a higher gear, in the process quashed the voiceless-dogs, and rendered them lifeless.
Many standout moments resonated. The highlight however was the presentation by Ambassador Girma Asmerom who is no stranger to Metro DC Eritreans in the US. He was once Eritrea’s Ambassador in the US from which he was transferred to serve as Eritrean Ambassador to the African Union headquartered in Ethiopia.
Ambassador Girma received warm welcome-back and tough questions from Eritreans that eagerly waited for authoritative response from their representative. Ambassador Girma delivered wisdom, timely-facts as well as perspectives on issues. He assured Eritreans on issues of concerns, clarified issues that needed clarification, clearly articulated Eritrea’s positions, approach, and challenges, and explained how Eritrea deals with these issues.
The constitution is living document that could be amended.
Corruption in Eritrea is negligible and ultimately it requires citizens’ cooperation to fight it when it appears.
The enemy is looking for ways to continue the sanction based on fabrications. Ethiopian authorities are hard at work to ensure continuation by linking Eritrea to Ethiopian opposition groups. The goal is always to deny Eritrea her independence because the arms embargo is designed to give Ethiopia advantage while denying Eritrea the right to self-defense.
It would take all of us to try to stem the flow of youth from Eritrea. We have to understand our role in it. He explained the role the West plays to deny Eritrea the youth with examples and evidences. Again the goal is the same to weaken and destabilize.
None of the Eritrean officials has any asset let alone asset that could be frozen with sanctions. We are servers of the people not opportunists that want to take advantage.
Ambassador Girma Asmerom’s presentation is always humble and rooted to his background, the struggle for liberation of Eritrea. In response to questions about the relationship of people with their government Ambssador Girma said something that resonated:
I travel all around and see how diplomats from other countries conduct their businesses, how they live and how they interact with their constituencies or not. None of the diplomats deals with their public let alone addresses them as we do. Eritreans are able to talk with their representatives openly about every conceivable subject, unheard and unseen anywhere. And got personal when he said,
“I have friends, and colleagues all over and I see how they live. I see their homes, cars and their successful lives. But that is not how I measure success. I measure success by the standards of Eritrean martyrs and if I am upholding my commitments to them.”
The statement above tells the whole story. Eritrea does not belong to individuals. It is up to all of us working together to make it a success based on the values that brought the independence and commitment to Eritrea’s heroes and sheroes that gave life and brought life to a nation.
The Eritrean Festival DC was a reflection of that core belief. Praise goes to all the organizers that toiled for the success of the event. Praise to those that stood on the scorching sun to ensure the safety of participants, those who served food, sold tickets, organized meetings and those who contributed. Praise goes to all the participants that came from near and afar and made the event a success.
What is even more amazing is that Eritrean Nationalism and patriotic zeal was displayed in the same fashion in Asmara, US, Canada, Italy, England and all-round the globe in the same fashion.
It is serene experience to witness peaceful-events where all participants are in the same mindset working for the same purpose in joy. It is a testament to the sophistication and brilliance of the Eritrean population dedicated to ensure the success of their communities and nation as one.
Glory to our Martyrs