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May 2005 - Celebrating the
14th anniversary of Eritrea
 

 

Asmara Eritrea - May 20th 2005

 

Gebrehiwot will go to the city center, and I will go with him to visit the front office of the Ministry of Tourism. I need some kind of an agenda of the celebrations, so I make a plan for next week. Unfortunately there is only a rough indication: carnival on Harnet Avenue followed by music and dance at Bahti Meskerem Square and on Harnet Avenue, every day until May 23rd.

So I spend most of the morning visiting the family of my wife, loaded with a large bag with all kinds of gifts and letters from Holland. The early afternoon is for the visits to Himbol exchange, to change the Euro's into Nakfa's, to make some official visits, and to greet the Minister of Tourism, Amina Nurhussien. There is an invitation for me to visit the main program in Asmara Stadium at May 24th.

At 17:00, just when the carnival is about to start, it starts raining cats and dogs. I hurry into Bar Moka to shelter. Two men are sitting on the opposite side of the table. One of them is handicapped. I order three tea: "celeste sha'hi!". I will not give them the chance to buy me a drink. The gesture is appreciated. I have to tell them from where I came. Holland is a good country, they tell me.

When I show them the pictures of my Eritrean wife and the children (this time I brought pictures, because the ask for them every time), other visitors join our table. "So you are Eritrean by marriage" they say, and offer me beer. Refusing is not allowed. I am their guest.

After more than an hour the rain stops and we can continue our conversation on the street. I ask them where I can buy an umbrella. I will need it. The men direct me to one of the streets that emerge into Harnet Avenue. But the heavy rains have resulted in a power failure and the shopkeeper is unable to find the umbrella in the dark. I will have to come back later.

It gives me time to think what would be a reasonable price for such an umbrella. In terms of Nakfa's, 100 Nakfa would be the limit for a modest one or 200 for a high quality umbrella. When I return half an hour later the man charges me 50 Nakfa (three dollars). He doesn't charge me any extra because I am a tourist, or because it is bad weather.

In Bar Selas, I hand copies of last years pictures to the waitress, Freweini. They circulate through the bar and Freweini goes out to a few of the stalls on the nearby market, to give the men their pictures. The reward is a few Asmara beers, and thumbs up that I did not forget them.

After a pizza in Terhas' Pizzeria Eritrea, I join the people on Harnet Avenue, dancing on the music of various bands. One of them is a Tigre singer with a traditional string instrument. I watch the men going up the stage to reward him with by sticking some Nakfa's into his collar for his performance. Shall I do the same? One of the men challenges me. "Let's go up!" Good plan! We climb the stage and dance a few seconds with the singer, leaving some Nakfa's in his clothes. Thank you for the music! Congratulations Eritrea!

The man standing next to me introduces himself as Jacob. "Only Eritreans can understand what we are celebrating. Independence was not given to us, we had to fight 30 year to win our liberation. Ethiopia, the United states and the USSR were our enemies. We only had us, captured weapons, and one people, one heart, one noble goal: free Eritrea!"

The ambiance, the music, the happy people and the interaction wetten my eyes. I am so happy I can share these moments with the citizens of Asmara. I dance with the Eritrean people in front of the stage, until it is almost 10 o'clock and time to walk back to Gebrehiwot's residence near Cinema Roma.

 

Muchot and Yohannes - Ministry of Tourism Service Center - Asmara Eritrea.

Muchot and Yohannes - Ministry of Tourism Service Center
Asmara Eritrea - For tourist Information call 00291 - 1 - 124871.

Local children - Sembel - Asmara Eritrea.

Local children - Sembel - Asmara Eritrea.

Biniam and Rawha - Asmara Eritrea.

Biniam and Rawha - Asmara Eritrea.

Josief - Asmara Eritrea.

Josief - Asmara Eritrea.

Himbol Exchange - Harnet Avenue - Asmara Eritrea.

Himbol Exchange - Harnet Avenue - Asmara Eritrea.

Congratulations - boy selling balloons on the occasion of 14th Independence Day - Asmara Eritrea.

Congratulations - boy selling balloons on the occasion
 of 14th Independence Day - Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated streets of Asmara Eritrea - 14th Independence Day.

Decorated streets of Asmara Eritrea - 14th Independence Day.

Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea - 14th Independence Day.

Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea - 14th Independence Day.

Tigre singer with traditional - violin like - instrument (Wata). Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea - 14th Independence Day.

Tigre singer with traditional - violin like - instrument (Wata)
Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea - 14th Independence Day.

Sematat Avenue Asmara Eritrea - 14th Independence Day.

Sematat Avenue Asmara Eritrea - 14th Independence Day.

 

 
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