By Bereket Kidane,
NO matter what part of the globe you live in, there is always an Eritrean Summer Festival near you that you can get to this time of year.
Following the initiative of the Eritrean Community of Italy and liberation era nationalistic fervor, the first Eritrean Summer Festival was organized in Bologna, Italy in 1974. Since then it has spread to all corners of the globe where Eritreans live and has become one the biggest and longest-running summer cultural festivals of the African Diaspora.
The vaunted Eritrean-American Community of the Greater Washington, DC area is holding its annual summer festival this weekend. The importance of the summer festival is that it has become a representative focal point of Eritrean culture and art. Concerts are always at the center of the festival. Eritrea’s top musicians tend to tour the globe this time of year and hit the different festivals held in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities where there are sizable Eritrean communities.
One of the goals of the festival has always been to introduce Eritrean culture to wider audiences as well as youth born and raised in the Diaspora. Another feature of the festival is to highlight the peaceful co-existence that takes place among Eritrea’s diverse cultural and ethnic groups as well as their way of life and traditions. The program of the festival has always been multi-artistic and multi-cultural. But mostly it is about the food and music.
The force that the celebration of Eritrea’s proud culture, history and nationalism plays in bringing its people together is of huge importance since the international media tries its hardest to paint Eritrea in a negative light without really making the effort to understand the country or its people.
So whether you are in Australia, Middle East, Africa, Europe or North America, go visit an Eritrean festival near you this summer (or winter if you are down under). And don’t forget to bring your kids!
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The 2014 Festival Eritreans in Toronto