Eritrean Flag Girl

Eritrean Festival DC a Show of Unflinching Unity

Amanuel Biedemariam

As usual, on August 17-19, 2012, Eritreans in Metro DC celebrated Eritrean Festival in grand fashion. Eritreans all over have taken these annual rituals as a second nature.

Year after year, for over thirty years, Eritreans have gathered to celebrate each other, music and Eritrean cultures.

Eritreans gather to exchange information, educate each other, to get updates on the current developments of their nation and the region. They sell goods and services to each other. It is a festive moment with a purpose that Eritreans look forward-to with great enthusiasm.

Eritrean festival is unique success story, unique to Eritrea that played pivotal role in the fight for independence of Eritrea. Before independence, before Eritrea had a government, the Festival brought Eritreans together from all around the globe in Bologna Italy and, made Eritrean history year after year.

After independence, the festivals grew and spread globally reaching Eritreans wherever they are. In North America the charged, festivals are celebrated in every corner where Eritreans reside. The major metropolitan areas draw large crowds. This year for example, Oakland California, Toronto Canada and DC celebrated in a grand fashion.

What is fascinating is the festivals ability to bring Eritrean communities from different areas as one. For example, five million people covering Maryland, Virginia and the District inhabit the Metro DC area. The Eritrean community leaves scattered everywhere but when it comes to the festival, they flourish and show identity of a community inseparable by distance.

Local musicians and musicians from Eritrea come to celebrate. This Year, Faytinga, Bereket Mengisteab, Tareke T-Hiwot, Korchach, Hailom and others came and added color to an already colorful event. Locally, musicians such as Tefeno Aklilu, Sami Berhane and others and added to the fun by singing songs like the new sensation Elele sending the people into frenzy.

This year, the three-day festivities included a seminar given by three intellectuals namely, Isayas Tesfamariam, Dr. Asghede Hagos and Elias Amare. This seminar was a highlight of the event that needs to be shared by every Eritrean.

Issayas Tesfamariam is a historian, film director, writer, photographer, blogger, and head of Microfilming Department at Hoover Institution. He is the author of the book ‘Eritrea, Colors in Motion’, producer of the films ‘Asmara: City of Radiance’ and ‘Eritrea an old new nation. Mr. Tesfamariam presented a paper about Soft Power. He explained what power is, what Soft Power means and, how Eritrea can take advantage of this untapped potential. His detailed presentation is “must” see by every Eritrean. He explained how culture, art, history, human stories, individual achievements, geography, artifacts… etc… can help promote and defend Eritrea. Lack of awareness of this Soft Power is tantamount to wasted opportunities. He showed many slides as examples of Soft Power. Mr. Tesfamariam’s educational seminar is powerful tool that will help Eritreans jump-start businesses and industries all over.

Dr. Asgede Hagos is a Professor of Mass Communications at Delaware State University. He is the author of ‘Hardened Images: The Western Media and the Marginalization of Africa’. He also wrote Media Intervention in Peace Building in Burundi ‘The Studio Ijambo Experience and Impact as part of USAID’s Greater Horn of Africa Peace Building Project. Dr. Asghede educated Eritreans how the enemies use their media to demonize and forward their agendas and, gave some solutions to counter their offensive. Dr. Asghede said Western media are businesses, concerned, primarily about their pocket books and, willing to do anything to get exclusive stories. These agenda setting news organizations like the Washington Post get their exclusive stories in a quid pro quo from institutions like the State Department. It is perpetual cycle, hard to break, that the handlers know how to use effectively while keeping the public in the dark. There is no regard to balance or fairness. Hence, it is important to counter their negatives with stories of our own.

Elias Amare, an Independent freelance researcher/writer, a Senior Fellow  with Peace building Center for the Horn of Africa (PCHA), served as an  ERI-TV journalist, a senior book editor, Communications Director and  cultural attach’ with the Eritrean Embassy in Washington, DC and a longtime volunteer community organizer. Mr. Elias Amare presented a paper that explained how they wage Psychological Warfare against Eritrea and what their goals are. Mr. Amare explained “Creative Destruction,” explained how it is applied on Eritrea and provided examples such as the Arab Spring. Mr. Amare noted, even though Eritrea has successfully foiled their ploys, vigilance is still necessary to continue defending the nation by what he called “Writing is Fighting.” Mr. Amare showed historic slides that dated back to the 50s, 60s and 70s highlighting the importance of writing vigilantly. He told stories about Eritrea’s giants such as Aboi Weldeab Weldemariam and Musa Aron and stressed the significant roles they played in challenging the colonial propaganda machinery. Writing played significant role in the fight for Eritrea’s independence and Mr. Amare stressed that the current challenges requires writing, more and, often in order to challenge the barrage of demonizing attempts being waged.

The Eritrean Festival opened on Friday with enthusiasm and, on Saturday, Ambassador Araya Desta briefed Eritreans about the current developments. He spoke about Eritrea’s achievements and said that Eritrea is in a much better position especially when considering the state of Eritrea after independence. He also said that brighter future awaits Eritrea due the strides the people of Eritrea have made in achieving food security. He noted that the abundant rainfalls of this year has filled the dams Eritrea built recently. In addition, he noted that the mining potential such as potash will ensure Eritrea’s long-term economic viability. Ambassador Desta explained the current challenges Eritrea faces at the UN and noted that the resoluteness of the people and government of Eritrea are foiling the evil attempts of the enemies.

The Eritrean Festival is a major cultural event that adds to the luster of DC every year. It is infusion to DC’s robust tourism and cultural diversity. This year dignitaries, diplomats and the media attended the festivities from many parts of the country. Congressman Jim Moran’s office sent representatives. Many nationalities from the horn of Africa were also present adding to the beauty of the festival, a testament to the positive role Eritreans play in bringing the people of the region together.

The Eritrean Festival in DC was significant achievement for Eritreans in the Metro DC and the US, it is even a greater achievement when one considers the large number of youth that participated for it is a testament of the unflinching unity of Eritreans worldwide.

Hence, it is imperative for every Eritrean to play a due role to enrich the festivals since the festival is part of our rich history and reflection of who we are. It is also a way to promote Eritrea by introducing it to other cultures and organizations that could become future friends of Eritrea. Our national expression ought to be service oriented to the nation and each other. That is the only way we can add to our rich, colorful and robust future.

Awetnayu@hotmail.com

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By Amanuel Biedemarian
  • Filmon

    What a beauty!! :)

  • berhane

    Eritreans should not forget the suffering of Eritreans at home by the Eritrean government. How in the world you celebrate while you don’t have the basic form of freedom in Eritrea?

    • Selma

      Berhane do you know that Eritrea faces threats from larger nations like Ethiopia and Imperial West? Unity is the only guarrant for selfdetermination and nationhood! Suffering is brought uppon Eritrea from outside pressure – The government does its best to maneuvor us through this, so we do not loose our nation!

      • joe

        Selma,
        Who cares about big nations? The government of Eritrea is a horrible governemt that denies freedom to its citizens but uses foreign plots as propoganda.
        Ask yourself, If everything was ok in Eritrea, why do thousands of people leave Eritrea every year?Because they enjoy sidet, trekking the desert, being food for mediteranean fish? wakeup!

        • Mohamed

          Because they think the West is honey, gold and milk! Blinded by unrealistic expectations to make it to richness in the West! Simple as that!

    • Edil

      leQlaQi, meTaQEi

  • Pingback: As usual,Eritreans in Metro DC celebrated Eritrean Festival |()

  • Edil

    My reply is to berhane leQlaQi!

  • Bernane

    Get your facts right sister Selma. If the west wanted Eritrea they would send two airplanes, that is all it takes but they don’t have the interests for a small nation like Eritrea. And as far as Ethiopia, if it going to happen will happen but a house without structure or foundation, strong foundation that is, will fall, as you know. Now you tell me sister you rather have 1000’s unwilling and mentally who are not ready solders or the few and strong but willing to protect Eritrea. If you cannot speak your mind it is not a country. Blood of my people have run for this country, I think I have a right to express my feeling as an Eritrean but not now not in Eritrea.

    • OHMG

      OHMYGOD Bernane Berhane! Do you come from planet Mars? You do not know whats going on!!!

  • Berhanne

    I know what is going on and what is going on is people like you who is selling the country to a dictator don’t know how to tell the truth. Everybody knows about Eritrea and the thieves who are stealing people’s gold.

  • isayas afe whisky

    Berhane,

    Answer me this.

    who was behind 911 ?

    if you know the answer, please tell us.

    Ohhh, was it that boogeyman with bears in cave of jilibadad with laptop? eh ?

    I will give you a hint.

    They are related to ob(s)ama bi(la)den

    hehehehe

    Berhane- stop watching too much TV

    Like Isaya afe whisky said, you have been brain washed.

  • Berhanne

    Who are you defending you idiot. Just yesterday 3 journalists, who simply were doing their job when they were arrested, died in prison in Eritrea. You sound like a devil just like your leader who brain washed you very good but some day you all going to pay for it with grace of God.

  • isayas afe whisky

    Any country would do that. Look at Assange. I am sure you have heard of the name.

    If you are going to demonize isayas, then you should do the same to all the countries in the world because they will all (including the US) arrest you if you mess with them.

    Now, CNN, BBC, FOX, ABC,NBC are all puppet Hollywood journalists that are not real.

    watch this fake news cast by CNN- come back the continue reading.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98JDKB-Qmxs

    So you should not act like the country you live in is a better place than Eritrea because it is not . Of course you dont say a word, probably go to work and sleep and on weekend sleep and then go back to work thinking you will one day receive your dream.
    We Eritreans will celebrate and be happy with the leader and country God gave us.

    Those people who demonize others like isayas are hypocrats.

    Why dont you shut yo mouth like you do in US CANADA or EUROPE and go to work, sleep get up and go to work again.

    If you ask the deepest questions about the Gov in US, they will take care of you too.
    There is no freedom any where in the world so find out who the real enemy is and it is not isayas.
    Do a research.

  • Berhanne

    You very well know you don’t get arrested for saying anything against President Obama. Look at Republicans for example they can speak their mind and nothing happens. There is what they call “freedom of speech” but in Eritrea you are gone for good, right or wrong? It is not just that, it is more than that, as you know. You see, you will live only one life and you rather be right or wrong? It is your basic human rights, and it is what God gave us, to express ourselves and to be heard and protected by law and it is not about America or any other country, it is your basic human right that is taken by Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki. Whether they are civil or political rights, such as the right to life, equality before the law and freedom of expression; economic, social and such as the rights to work, social security and education, or collective rights, such as the rights to development and self-determination is all taken. What are your rights in Eritrea? Hey, I can go on and on but remember this fellow Eritrean brothers and sisters… I know we can do better than this.

  • isayas afe whisky

    Berhane-

    you said

    “You very well know you don’t get arrested for saying anything against President Obama. Look at Republicans for example they can speak their mind and nothing happens. There is what they call “freedom of speech””

    This is one of the dumm#$st comment I have ever heard

    *Google –
    “who killed andrew breitbart”

    *Watch : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvay28lZiHU

    *Read
    http://politicalvelcraft.org/2012/01/10/breaking-obama-passport-witness-fatally-shot-outside-church/

    Read and watch and hen come back to me.

    Like They said –
    “american dream is just a dream because you have to be asleep to actually achieve it”

    • TESF

      I WISH YOU GET JAILED IN ONE OF THE NEW JAILS THEY HAVE IN ASMARA CITY – ALMOST NO ONE KNOWS WHERE THEY ARE BUT YOU WOULD LOVE THEM MY FRIEND.

  • Berhanne

    What Eritrea need is a new leader, a new government through a revolution. You, Afe whatever you name maybe is, are useless just like your leader. You and people like you were, unfortunately, brainwashed for good. Your leader needs to be locked inside a container with 140 degree plus just like he does to journalists, his opponents, and some unfortunate kids so he can test the misery he put people into.

  • ERITRAWI

    ERITREA IS A FAILED STATE. 20 YEARS OF SLAVERY … ITS CHILDREN SCATTERED, AS IF THEIR MOTHER HAVE DIED. WHAT GOOD HAS THE EPLF BROUGHT TO ERITREA APART FROM MISERY AND DEATH. WELL THEY HAVE AMASSED LARGE AMOUNTS OF MONEY FOR THEMSELVES, THEY ARE LIVING IN THE BEST VILLAS THEMSELVES, CORRUPT IDIOTS! YOU THINK ISAYAS IS CLEAN, WAIT UNTIL HE DIES ….THEY TALK ABOUT DERG’S CORRUPTION, WE ARE THE MOST CORRUPT COUNTRY NOW, THEY TALK ABOUT DERG’S PRISON, ERITREA HAS MORE PRISON THAN COLLEGES NOW, THANK YOU SHABIA.
    LOSERS! LOOK WHAT MELES HAS DONE TO HIS COUNTRY. IF ISAYAS DIES, I THINK THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO WILL REALLY BE SAD WILL BE HIS CRONIES. 20 YEARS! AND WITH 1000 KM OF COASTAL LINE WITH ALL THE FISH IN THE WORLD! ENDLESS SLAVERY NO WORK PEOPLE LEAVING THE COUNTRY LIKE CRAZY! ATHLETES ASKING FOR ASYLUM ALWAYS … IF ERITREA WAS DOING GREAT, THEN WHY THE HELL IS EVERYONE RUNNING AWAY … DYING IN THE DESERT, DROWNING IN THE SEA, GETTING KIDNAPPED. YOU SLAVE HERDERS! AND I THINK ERITREANS WE DESERVE IT TOO. WE DON’T HAVE THE GUTS! ONLY A FEW DAYS AGO I LEARNT THE DEATH OF MY FRIENDS JOURNALISTS. ARRESTED FOR DOING WHAT JOURNALISTS DO. ERITREA! WHAT A MESS SHABIA HAS DONE!!!

  • isayas afe whisky

    your reactions are wrong. you need to id the cause of the issue.
    All you are doing is reacting in anger which i understand.
    the whole world is how you have described above -chaos.
    The problem I have is that, what will you replace isayas with? some one who will take a loan from IMF? Allow West? allow China?
    I understand the freedom of speech and the jailing – which is terrible.
    The fact that you wish that on me speaks volume of what kind of people will come after Isaya. People full of revenge.
    You dont know your God. Pray for peace in Eritrea not revenge and over throw and more blood shed.
    The reason Eritrea is going through this is because it did not want help from the west.
    If you do not bow down to them they will have a way to make it seem you have internal problems by creating internal instability. By creating people that are angry like you. Look at Libya, Egypt, Syria. Who are they replaced with? Angry folks like you.
    We dont want that. All I am saying is that your solutions are cause for more instability. revolution is not the answer.
    Mathews 26:52 – Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.

  • Hsbi

    So true my brother! I love the way you see things! So many Eritreans are confused and harm their country as they do not see things clearly!

  • Berhanne

    When I was fourteen years old, in 1977 I went to a little town with my two young cousins, my age, to join the Eritrean fighters. The people in the village told us the Eritrean fighters where here last night but they moved to another town, my cousins and I went back to our family in Asmara. After a few months we tried that again, the same thing happened and it was pouring rain in that village and we had to go back to Asmara, again. My family did not know all this that we wanted to join our brothers and sisters to fight against Dergs. There was shooting every day in Asmara and there was curfew sun down to sun rise. After a couple weeks my father decided for us to move out of the country. My two cousins, however, left with their family and both of them joined the fight for Eritrea. One of my cousins fought and died for freedom of Eritrea. For me to see people die and suffer from the hands of their brothers and sister who I once wanted badly to join is a suffering renewed every day. In this life we only live once and to see Beasts dominate others thinking they will live forever is a big mistake from the people who supports the Beast. Eritreans everywhere let us do the right thing and give Eritrea its freedom it deserves.

  • isayas afe whisky

    I was in Asmara Friday the start of gun shots in Asmara during first derg invasion, and Saturday was worst, and then the rest was history. So I too was in Asmara during those days.

    I too have a brother who died fighting Derg

    Now, Eritrea got independence, but ‘Ethiopia’ Woyane that was trained by Eritrea back stabbs Eritrea and wants to fight and byte the finger that once fed her. Woyane wants to go further and give Assab to once Enemy Ethiopia. Talk about back stabbing.

    Ethiopia then becomes friends with the west and conspires to turn Eritrean into this monster zombie country.

    Ethiopia is upset for what ever the reason and wants war with Eritrea and tries to bully her and accuses her of being a terrorist and sanction is in effect by false accusation without evidence.
    Then they try to destabilize the country by rumors saying Isayas is dead which was fabricated lie and a psychological operations used to inject fear.
    But guess what happened, God turned the wrath and gave the rumor back to Eritrea as Reality by taking Meles away (not to punish Meles – but to change the equasion).

    Now, I can understand Isayas getting paranoid and arresting every one. Because that is what the west will make you do if yu do not bow down to them. They are very very good at creating chaos. They earn PHD in Psucological operations and they know Man Kind physiology and sycology real well.
    All you need to do is pray for God to give our leader wisdom.Not revolution. By the way I dont think loud mouth like some people here have the guts to fight.
    They are just internet warriors or may be kids.

    God bless in the name of Christ

  • Berhanne

    What the West and Woyane have to do for what your leader, a harsh dictator is doing to his people? And I think I asked that before and that means you are psychologically brain washed. You said “Now, I can understand Isayas getting paranoid and arresting every one. Because that is what the west will make you do if yu do not bow down to them.” Really? and you said you believe in God. Let me tell you something Shabiat boy, go ahead protect whatever you believe you are protecting and my discussion with your lying person is ended right here. I really don’t have time for people like you, who are not honest and leaving in dreams off others misery. But one day you and people like you will get what you deserve, misery.

  • isayas afe whisky

    Berhane;
    You probably think they guy in a cave with laptop did 911 (sept 11).. right?
    You think a guy named osama binladen did that with 19 mullahs, right?
    Now, who is brain washed.? You believe that because the main stream media told you right and brain washed you.

    watch http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7866929448192753501
    watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XRMrMdn0NQ
    watch http://www.ae911truth.org/

    Now who is brain washed, yuo or me.

    By the way you get angry too much. You will get diabetes.

    You can wish all the misery you want on me, I will wish you the best.
    You want revolution, I want peace and change of heart through the power of God.
    You want an eye for an eye? you will lose big time and rot in jail.

    I never started discussion with you, you did.
    So you can end it for all I care.

    You and lots of people don’t understand how the west and cia works and how their psychological operations work.

    You are a robot that is repeating what the west main stream media is telling you.
    You are like a parrot repeating words from CNN FOX ABC CBS

    You are not at my level. You think you live in a dictator free world?
    in USA, Australia, EU, Russia China?

    “american dream is just a dream because you have to be asleep to actually achieve it”

    You are asleep, so keep dreaming the American dream.

    You are not at my level Berhane, so get lost. I will be protected by God while you wish me mysery!

  • awad alikerar

    To all who expressed their supportive opinions to the regime in Eritrea and those who expressed their opposive opinions against the same regime.

    I would like to start by forwarding my greetings to all. Next I would like to forward and explain facts I faced in my own life while I was in Eritrea.

    1. I and other 5 individuals where forcely deported from Sudan to Eritrea in late 90s after being tortured in secret prisons of Sudan.
    When we came to Eritrea, the warm hospitability we received from the Eritrea Authorities was beyond my expectations (this is not exaggeration) I still have all the documents that proofs this in my possession.

    2. I stayed in Eritrea for few days to obtain copies of my personal documents which were left back in Sudan and to obtain a travel permit to go to Ethiopia. All my requests were accomplished with great support from the authorities.

    3. In 1998 few months before the conflict between my country and Ethiopia, I returned back home for good and stayed with my family in Asmara. I started looking for jobs. One day I heard that the PFDJ office in Asmara was looking for Arabic/Tigrigna translator. I went to their office and applied for the job. They tested my language proficiency. I passed. Then they asked me if I were a member of the party and if I was willing to be a member which was a condition for the job. My answer was no and never got into any trouble as some people think.
    3. When it became clear that the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea was imminent, I decided to leave to Saudi Arabia via Yemen. I was granted the Yemeni visa but my application for the Saudi visa (Umra visa) was declined because of age limitation. I went to our Ministry of Interior and explained the issue with them. They helped me obtain the Saudi visa by stamping my passport saying that my birth day was corrected to be 1958 instead of 1962.

    There are more and more positive acts and decisions made by our government to help its own citizens.

    So please let us stop the prefabricated propaganda. I don’t think there would be an Eritrean who would love to see a divided Eritrea which would be a piece of cake for foreign invaders. Our liberation day is the birthday of our beloved country it is not the birthday of Issayas or PFDJ. If any Eritrean would assume the liberation day of Eritrea is a tragedy day then let the people of Eritrea judge such person.