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May 2007 - Celebrating Eritrea's 16th Independence Day
 
Congratulations Eritrea
16th Independence Day
 

 

Asmara Eritrea - May 18th 2007

 

The Independence Day program starts at 18:00. At 15:00 I have an appointment in the PFDJ office, where I will try to get an extra permit that should make it easier to picture the shows in Bahti Meskerem and the Asmara Stadium. I will spend the morning to find a family in Kahawta to deliver a letter. I got a 2001 address, and the names of the streets of Asmara have been changed since then.

When I walk from the center of Asmara to the Halibet Hospital in Kahawta, Feshaye picks me up with his Toyota Hilux. "Why walk when there is busses?" he asks. It is both good for my health and better to experience every detail of Asmara. (there is community feasts in various  places, but they are not communicated in the press, you will have to find them yourself).

I start my search in the area around the Halibet Hospital. Friendly men explain that I have to walk another mile or so in the direction of Godaif. A soldier is willing to assist me to find the exact address. But nobody knows this family, nor do the neighbors and their neighbors. We search some parallel streets, even the whole neighborhood, but with a zero result.

Being so close to the address on the letter, I give it another try with Biniam, a student, who studies at the Mai Nefhi Technical College. Again we end at a specific house, ask many of the neighbors and even try surrounding streets, but again nothing. I make some pictures of the house and the street in front of it, as feedback for the one that wrote the letter. There is little more I can do.

The student asks me to have a drink. In a bar I ask him if he wants to drink a beer. When we leave, the student pays both beers. I want to stop his, but Biniam is very clear "You were my guest". I feel a bit embarrassed. Biniam spent an hour helping me with my search, and rewards me with a beer, where he should be my guest.

I take the number 4 bus to Cinema Roma. There is a small exhibition of the Eritrean Red Cross & Red Crescent. Rodas and her colleague explain the principles and the activities of the Red Cross. When Rodas mentions the attempts to reunite families, I remember the letter. Rodas lives in Godaif, which is not far from Kahawta. She will try to find this family. We exchange e-mail addresses, and I make an appointment to meet again tomorrow at Bar Impero.

The rest of the afternoon is for friends and family, and the PFDJ office. I am neither fish nor flesh, I have no official press status, so it will be difficult to arrange any extra freedom of movement. But an entry card for the Asmara Stadium on May 24 is no problem. I will have to come back again, because the cards are not available yet.

To have a good view on the evening show in Bahti Meskerem, I choose a seat on the first row of Bahti Meskerem's grandstand. It is a good seat for an overall view, but a bit far to make pictures. So after an hour, I slip down and choose a position in line with the guards (students, police and military). Nobody minds, as long as I do not pass the imaginary line that is formed be hundreds of students in a blue with yellow outfit.

From this position, I can see the artists coming from behind and returning after their performances. The extra permit is not necessary. I guess one third of the Asmara police force knows me by now, since I am a regular guest around Independence Day.

At 21:30 the show is finished. Some last beers in Rita's Bar Gurgusum before I return to the house of Gebrehiwot and Zewdi.

 

The streets of Kahawta - Asmara Eritrea.

The streets of Kahawta - Asmara Eritrea.

Local women - Kahawta Asmara Eritrea.

Local women - Kahawta Asmara Eritrea.

Red Cross & Red Crescent exhibition - Cinema Roma Asmara Eritrea.

Red Cross & Red Crescent exhibition - Cinema Roma Asmara Eritrea.

Red Cross & Red Crescent exhibition - Cinema Roma Asmara Eritrea.

Red Cross & Red Crescent exhibition
Cinema Roma Asmara Eritrea.

Red Cross & Red Crescent exhibition - Cinema Roma Asmara Eritrea.

Red Cross & Red Crescent exhibition
Cinema Roma Asmara Eritrea.

Live entertainment - Bathi Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Live entertainment - Bahti Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Modern African music and dance - Bathi Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Modern African music and dance - Bahti Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Evening show - Bathi Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Modern African music and dance - Bahti Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Colorful illuminated entrance - Bathi Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Colorful illuminated entrance - Bahti Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

EDF cultural troope - Bathi Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

EDF cultural troupe - Bahti Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Female dancer - Bathi Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Female dancer - Bahti Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Student keeping an eye on the public - Bathi Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Student keeping an eye on the public - Bahti Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Short musical drama - Bathi Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Short musical drama - Bahti Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Bereket Mengesteab - Bathi Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Bereket Mengesteab - Bahti Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

The audience - Bathi Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea. 

The audience - Bahti Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Show featuring the Eritrean flag - Bathi Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

Show featuring the Eritrean flag - Bahti Meskerem Square Asmara Eritrea.

 

 
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