Bologna: A Nostalgic Return to Eritrea’s Second City

Bologna was epitome of Diaspora resilience and cohesion with vanguard EPLF during liberation war. Festival conveys emphatically same message” – Yeman G. Meskel

Festival Bologna: A Legacy of Eritrean Determination and Inspiring Memories
Festival Bologna: A Legacy of Eritrean Determination and Inspiring Memories

By Bereket Kidane,

THOUSANDS of Eritreans descended on Bologna this past week to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Bologna Summer Festivals and pay homage to Eritrea’s liberation era spirit of brotherhood, dedication and commitment to the liberation of Eritrea.

It was a nostalgic return to a city that was once declared by its mayor as “Eritrea’s capital city until the liberation of Asmara.” For all intents and purposes, Bologna was Eritrea’s second city, after Nakfa, from 1974 to 1991. This week’s Bologna reunion must have been a trip down memory lane or “a blast from the past” as we say in America for multiple generations of Eritreans who used to attend those liberation era festivals with all their excitement and anticipation.

Those young men and women who used to toil day and night as taxi drivers and maids donated most of their earnings to the EPLF so that their tegadelti brothers and sisters back in the “field” could have provisions.

Those patriots have now become senior citizens and can proudly look back nostalgically to the contributions they made to the struggle in their youth. The children of those patriots who grew up attending those festivals have now become young adults and have taken over the leadership responsibilities of Eritrean Community Centers in the diaspora. Following in the footsteps of their parents, they are organizing, directing and leading Eritrean Community Centers in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East.

For those of us who never attended the Bologna Festivals, we knew Bologna from videos and classics such as Habte Shawel’s “Susas Alata.” In the pre-internet era, festival goers eagerly awaited for news from the liberated areas and were briefed by EPLF representatives from the field. The saying “Dehai Adi haba” was more than just fodder for the comedic geniuses of Habte Shawel.

Bologna is once again attended by those representatives from the field who have now become ministers, liberation era entertainers that kept up the morale of the fighters and young and old patriots. Young and old patriots alike can wax nostalgic and reminisce about the liberation era feats that were accomplished while renewing and re-doubling their commitment to the Eritrean State.

Bologna will always be Eritrea’s second city!

Long live Bologna!
Long live the revolution!
Awet N’ Hafash!