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May 2005 - Celebrating the
14th anniversary of Eritrea
 

 

Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea - May 29th 2005

 

There is thousands of people on their way to the festival of Mariam Dearit. Following the families is enough to find the direction. When I am in the center of Keren, I am directed to one of the mini buses. And although I planned to walk, their words sound like an invitation to join the group in the bus. An invitation one will not easily refuse.

A few minutes later I am at the festival where I watch the people making music, singing, praying or just waiting for the procession. Men of several photo studios are picturing families in front of the shrine. "Hannes! Do you remember me?" a woman addresses me. I do my best to remember her, but I can't. "We met in Asmara, where you joined our lunch at the Chamber of Commerce."

I apologize for not recognizing her. I meet many people each day. It is difficult to memorize them all. She understands, and after a short conversation she disappears into the crowd. I try to get close to the procession to have a good view on what is happening. People politely open the row to let me come close to make some pictures.

Most of the woman in beautiful traditional outfit don't want me to picture them. I may be wrong, but I think they only welcome the camera of a friend or a relative, because only friends or relatives are supposed to carry your picture. When I meet Hansu and Bereket, I have to make pictures.

In the shade of the trees families are having a picnic. More than once I am invited to join them. The eat injera or to drink coffee or Araki. When I tell them about my relationship with Eritrea, and about last years visit to the shrine, they are impressed.

On the other side of the compound Bilen women are performing their typical dance, shaking there heads, so their plated hair will rotate around their head. Other women are beating their drums and singing. The songs and the drumbeat are simple, almost hypnotizing, and accompanied with a handclapping audience, further inspiring the dancing women.

They cannot get enough of this feasting, and when I join the handclapping audience, the mysterious eye contact with the dancing group provokes a special emotional interaction. As a man, and a tourist, I am not supposed to join the group of dancing women, but we share the rhythm and the feel of whatever the music is supposed to express.

When the dancing is finished, and most people walk towards the gate, I decide to leave as well. I have some slices of water melon, just outside the compound  before returning to the house of Afworki and Hansu and saying goodbye to Elen, Hidat and Rahel. Tomorrow I will leave to Barentu.

Hidat invites me to walk with her and her girlfriend through the center of Keren. And to pray in a Catholic church. Her girlfriend is doing her examinations tomorrow, and Hidat ..... God will know. I silently ask for peace to the Eritreans. We have a drink and some pastry in a modern cafe.

In Elen's bar I drink some Asmara beers, until sunset. I have to be back before dark. I have to pack my bag for tomorrows trip to Barentu.

 

Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

The statue of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

The statue of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

Music and dance - Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

Music and dance - Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

Bilen woman with child - Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

Bilen woman with child - Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

The audience - Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

The audience - Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

Picnic with an Eritrean family - Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

Picnic with an Eritrean family - Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

Woman dancing - Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

Woman dancing - Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

Woman dancing - Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

Woman dancing - Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

Boys selling water melon - Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

Boys selling water melon - Festival of Mariam Dearit - Keren Eritrea.

 

 
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