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May 2004 - Celebrating the
13th anniversary of Eritrea
Congratulations Eritrea - 13 years independence.

Congratulations Eritrea
13 years independence

 
 

Asmara Eritrea - May 24th 2004

 

May 24th is the national holiday in Eritrea and the main ceremonies will take place this afternoon, so I choose to spend the morning in the Asmara Zoo. It is not a spectacular place to be, but it is in the center a a forest, so you can make a nice walk, enjoying mother nature, the sun and a drink and a snack at the bar.

In the Zoo, boys are trying to earn a few Nakfa's by offering themselves as a guide and attracting the animals attention, so I can picture them. I do not need a guide, so I ignore them. I walk the surroundings of the Zoo, in a slow pace. It is extremely hot today.

In the afternoon I take the bus number one to Sembel to charge all batteries of the video for the show that will take place in the stadium. In the supermarket I buy a large bottle of mineral water and something to eat and share with others.

The taxi is stopped by the military a few hundred meters from the stadium. From there I have to walk, passing a checkpoint every 200 meters. Check, check, double check. I have to show the content of my bags three times. president Isaias Afwerki, high ranking government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and various foreign guest will attend the ceremonies, so there is a good reason for these extra safety measures.

Unfortunately I am directed to the sunny side of the stadium. It will not be easy to make high quality video or pictures. And I forgot to take something to protect my arms from the sunlight. I hide one hand under the program and try to hide the other behind my neighbors back.

My neighbor leaves, and after ten minutes he returns with two bottles of coca cola. One for him, one for me! I share the chewing gum I bought in the shop with all visitors around me. The man sitting behind me offers me his jacket to hide for the sun. Eritrean people are very sensitive to the needs of others, even (or especial?) if you are a tourist. Waiting is a lot easier like this. Helicopters pulling banners fly over the stadium. And the Eritrean Air Force shows four of its fighter planes.

It is like last year, the National Military Marching Band, a parade of all kind of military, Navy, Air Force, Army, Police as well as Yikaalo troops and Warsai soldiers. Then there is speeches of officials and the president. He describes the Eritrean economy, its goals and difficulties it is facing: The recent war, irregular water supply and ineffective farming methods. Agricultural development has first priority.

Second part of his speech is devoted to the "Woyanes": "The TPLF regime is busy in its attempts to run away from agreements it has signed and thus trample on the Boundary Commissions' rulings, fabricating 'new mechanisms' to plunge the peace process into complications and endless cycle of obstructions".

The speech is followed by musical drama, singing and dancing. Singers of all nine ethnic groups give a cultural show. 1,800 students from elementary. junior and secondary school levels, dressed in the colors of the Eritrean flag, stage two musical drama's and aerobics.

I am free to move on this side of the stadium, so I choose a better spot to make some pictures of the show. The celebration is concluded singing and playing the Eritrean national anthem.

When I leave the stadium to go back home, I run into Kibreab, brother of Saba, Mebrats' girl friend. Fortunately he recognizes me, because the present of his sister is still waiting for him, because I was not able to find him until now. We walk to the house of Mebrat's sister, where I left the package, sure it would be easy to pick up there if necessary. Kibreab invites me to drink some beer with him. I invite him to Terhas' Pizzeria Eritrea to try one of her pizza's.

 

Ostrich in the Asmara zoo - Amara Eritrea.

Ostrich in the Asmara zoo - Amara Eritrea.

British war cemetery - Asmara Eritrea.

British war cemetery - Asmara Eritrea.

University of Asmara - Asmara Eritrea.

University of Asmara - Asmara Eritrea.

Part of the  front cover of the program book distributed at the  celebrations of  13th Independence Day in Asmara Stadium.

Part of the  front cover of the program book distributed at the
 celebrations of  13th Independence Day in Asmara Stadium.

Eritrean Air Force fighter planes flying over the Asmara Stadium.

Eritrean Air Force fighter planes flying over the Asmara Stadium.

The National Military Marching Band playing in Asmara Stadium.

The National Military Marching Band playing in Asmara Stadium.

Eritrean Navy parading at the celebrations in Asmara Stadium.

Eritrean Navy parading at the celebrations in Asmara Stadium.

Hundreds of students dancing at the celebrations in Asmara Stadium.

Hundreds of students dancing at the celebrations in Asmara Stadium.

Singing the national anthem at the celebrations in Asmara Stadium.

Singing the national anthem at the celebrations in Asmara Stadium.

Eating a pizza with Kibreab in Pizzeria Eritrea - Asmara Eritrea.

Eating a pizza with Kibreab in Pizzeria Eritrea - Asmara Eritrea.

 

 
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