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May 2005 - Celebrating the
14th anniversary of Eritrea
 

 

Asmara Eritrea - The eve of Independence Day - May 23rd 2005

 

Today I continue to visit hotels, restaurants and other tourism service providers to update the data on the Asmara and Eritrea pages. Asmara is boarded up with banners expressing the joy of freedom and glorifying the martyrs who gave their lives in the thirty year struggle for liberation and the recent border war with neighbor Ethiopia, still lurking for Eritrean territory and the port of Assab.

Looking for a specific address near the Croche Rosa Cinema, I find myself at the backdoor of the US embassy in Asmara. From her embassy, Melissa Sheperd mailed me a while ago. So I think this a good opportunity to visit her and to see how she is doing with her project. A few minutes and some security checks later, she shows me the compound of the US embassy and we drink tea.

In the afternoon I visit the Asmara railway station. When I want to enter the yard, a man tells me not to do so. I explain my situation. His attitude changes. He invites me to walk a bit, following the former track of the line to Keren and Agordat. It can never be restored using the original track, since a massive stadium (Bahti Meskerem) is built on its route.

On the other side of the stadium, we pick up the track again and follow its route that is marked by lost sleepers, and remaining rail embedded in asphalt roads to Kahawta. After a few blocks Yemane turn to his house, and I continue my walk, making it a sport to try to find the railway track, all the way through Gheza Banda, up to the Mellotti beer and liquor factory in Kahawta, until I think its is time to visit the celebrations.

A shared taxi brings me back from Kahawta to the center, where I join the people waiting for whatever is to show up today. Someone with a French accent, carrying a large camera approaches me. It is Eric Lafforgue, who also published a lot of his pictures of Eritrea some years ago. We exchange our Eritrean experiences and have a drink in the City Cake Cafe, teasing the waitresses with our camera's, until a marching band passes.

The rest of the program will start at 21:00, the eve of Eritrea's 14th Independence Day. Bands are playing at various stages on Harnet Avenue. I walk Asmara's main street with Zewdi and Gebrehiwot. Thousands of Asmarino's are taking possession of the main street. Dancing, meeting, celebrating.

At midnight the bells of the Cathedral strike twelve times, and the crowd is counting to twelve: "Ha'de, keleh'te, se'leste, arb'ate, hamush'te, shedush'te, shew'ate, she'monte, te'she'ate, aserte, aserte-hade, aserte-keleh'te! Yohanna! Yohanna! Yohanna! Yohanna Ertra.! Happy birthday Eritrea!

The sky fills with fireworks and the men and women gathered, young and old, modern and traditional, civilians, military- and policemen dance on the music coming from the various stages until long after midnight. A people is celebrating their liberation proudly, feasting on the streets of Asmara, like the did in May 1991, when they won their freedom, against all odds.

 

Decorated gate - Eritrean Teachers Association - Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated gate - Eritrean Teachers Association - Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated building - Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated building - Asmara Eritrea.

Our border, our blood - Asmara Eritrea.

Our border, our blood - Asmara Eritrea.

Norwegian Embassy - Asmara Eritrea.

Norwegian Embassy - Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated shop window - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated shop window - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated High Court - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated High Court - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

End of the line - Bathi Meskerem Asmara Eritrea.

End of the line - Bahti Meskerem Asmara Eritrea.

Former railway track (to Keren) through Gheza Banda - Asmara Eritrea.

Former railway track (to Keren) through Gheza Banda - Asmara Eritrea.

Member of the Asmara police - Asmara Eritrea.

Member of the Asmara police - Asmara Eritrea.

Children enjoying spun sugar - Asmara Eritrea.

Children enjoying spun sugar - Asmara Eritrea.

Women waiting for the parades - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Women waiting for the parades - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Zewdi and Ghebrehiwot - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Zewdi and Ghebrehiwot - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Eritrean Airlines stage - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Eritrean Airlines stage - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Picture us - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

"Picture us" - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

24/05/2005 0:00 Fireworks - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

24/05/2005 0:00 Fireworks - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

 

 
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