By Eritrean Media Committee,
AT a time when Eritreans are celebrating Festivals in various places throughout the world, In the Washington DC metro area the 2014 version was celebrated with zeal.
To start the weekend on Friday August 8th, 2014 at the Sheraton Pentagon City the official 2014 Festival kicked off with a seminar and an opening ceremony. The seminar organized by the Organization of Eritrean Americans dealt with Dialogue on US-Eritrea relations. The featured guest was former United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Jay Cohen.
Following the seminar the weekend festivities officially kicked off to a great start with current UN Ambassador Girma Asmerom, Eritrean govt. officials, PFDJ and YPFDJ members as well as different Eritrean organizations, friends and participants present. Entertainment was provided by some of the top artists from Eritrea as well as musicians from the USA.
For the first time ever the main festival ground was at the Ann Arundel county fairgrounds in Crownsville Maryland less than an hour away from downtown Washington DC. The location and the setting of this year’s festival has been touted by participants as one of the best since the Eritrean festival began being celebrated in the metro DC area in the 1980’s. At the fairground the ribbon cutting ceremony started of the day in what was an incredible and festive mood all day. What made this year’s festival exciting is the participation of young kids. With the festival organized in a similar fashion to the big festival in Eritrea and the recent Bologna festival, most everyone had something to do at all times. The cultural show with the nine different ethnic groups that make up Eritrea was a hit with each group having it’s own tent. The exhibitions as well as the seminars were heavily attended. In what was a great seminar Journalist Tesfay Gebreab who exposed the evil deeds of the enemy of the horn of Africa people the regime in Addis with his book took questions and expressed that it is the people of Eritrea that can bring hope and peace to the horn of Africa.
Along with the many activities and playground facilities for kids the festival also presented a sports/soccer tournament for kids. Traditional food and drinks were also prepared for everyone along with other foods. Then came the big seminar lead by Berhane Gebrehiwot from the Eritrean embassy in Washington DC and the guest of honor his Excellency UN ambassador Girma Asmerom who is quite familiar with the public in the Washington DC metro area as a former Eritrean ambassador to the USA. The ambassador in a truly democratic fashion gave the microphone to the public after a very short introduction to allow people to ask any questions they have. So a majority of the seminar ended with the good ambassador answering questions from the public. A movie from Eritrea was also screened for the first time.
Following the seminar the Eritrean based singers as well as a Kunama troupe from the Atlanta; GA area performed and had the public express their much-desired love for their Eritrean culture. The day ended at about 9PM at the fair ground.
Meanwhile, the adult entertainment continued at the echo stage in Washington DC. With the featured artists that included Wodi Tikul, Abeba Haile, Khedija Adem, Haile Nati as well as other stars the entertainment was probably one of the best in a long time. The party went on until the wee hours of the morning.
On Sunday August 10th, 2014 the festivities continued at the Ann Arundel County fairgrounds once more where many interesting activities took place. As is the tradition in the Eritrean culture poetry reading and recitals were full of excitement. An organizational seminar by his Excellency ambassador Asmerom and an awards ceremony for drama as well as composing traditional dance ended the festival with so much appreciation by the public.
In a nut shell festival Eritrea of the East Coast of the United States for the year 2014 will go down in memory as one of the best ever.