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July and August 2006
Festival Eritrea 2006
 

 

Festival Eritrea - July 31st 2006

 

At the entrance the content of my bags is checked every day. It is clear that the Festival Eritrea 2006 should not end up like the streets of Addis Ababa, where people are throwing stones at each other, protesting against their government. 

The military and the police have a clear role, both in the festival area and in the rest of Eritrea: law and order must be respected. But the same police and military is participating in the joy and celebrations, handclapping and dancing with the participants and visitors. So there is no repression, but strict and friendly control.

Today there are all kinds of games, in which teams or individuals of all six regions compete in various sports and children's activities. Cultural groups of the zoba's encourage their representatives with yells, drums and dance.

I walk the Expo grounds, making short stops at the stalls to buy a souvenir, some snacks or a Coke. I enjoy the many music & dance performances and cultural activities on the regional sections. Loudspeakers are continuously making announcements. In Tigrinya, I cannot understand them.

It looks as if every flying object that could not leave Asmara's airport because of heavy damage, is parked in the Expo area. An old Dakota, an old Soviet plane, a Boeing 727 and what is left of a tiny helicopter serve as toys for the children.

Around noon dark clouds again cover the skies above Asmara. Two hours later it starts to rain. The rain develops into a thunderstorm. Everyone hastens to one of the many temporary bars or restaurants to shelter for the rains. I visit an exhibition of the Bidho Association. It is an organization of, and for people living with HIV and AIDS.

After my visit to the Bidho presentation, I move to another tent hosting a temporary bar and restaurant, to wait for better weather, and to drink some Asmara beers. The people are very helpful to guide me, and offer me a seat, in a safe place in the tent (rain is dripping or flowing in through holes in the tent).

Writing in my notebook, two men next to me ask me if I am a journalist. I explain my position. When I tell them my wife is Eritrean, they want to know about my children with Mebrat. We drink beers and I tell them about my previous visits to Eritrea.

They want to know if I have visited any other countries in Africa, except Eritrea, like Ethiopia. I tell them I never visited Ethiopia. As long as the "Chifta Woyane" are continuing with their hostile international policies, lurking at the Eritrean and Somali border, cross border tourism will be impossible.  

Soon the rain forms small pools on the roof of the tents. To prevent the tent will collapse under the weight of the water, sticks and furniture are used to direct the water to the edges. Even in the tent one is not completely safe for the rains. Some of the water enters the tent at unexpected places through one of the holes in the roof.

In the exhibition halls I visit the education pavilion, where various examples of Eritrea's education programs and teaching materials are displayed of all levels of schools. A presentation of a kindergarten, innovative works of students, summer work programs and historic displays of education in the field, under giant sycamore trees, during the war of liberation.

After the rains, the program continues. I find myself a good spot to watch the shows on one of the main stages, to witness the performances of the cultural groups. Both the memory card (800 pictures!) and the batteries of the camera have to be replaced during the shows. It is superabundance of Eritrean beauty and culture on 40 square meters of stage. 

  

Expo Exhibition Hall - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Expo Exhibition Hall - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Modern Eritrean art - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Modern Eritrean art - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Kunama settlement - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Kunama settlement - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Children's recreation-ground - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Children's recreation-ground - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Kunama woman - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Kunama woman - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Temporary restaurant - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Temporary restaurant - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Hedareb woman - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Hedareb woman - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Tigre women - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Tigre women - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Tigre cultural group - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Tigre cultural group - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Kunama cultural group - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Kunama cultural group - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Tigrinya cultural group - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Tigrinya cultural group - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Night scene - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

Night scene - Festival Eritrea 2006 - Expo Asmara Eritrea.

 

 
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