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

 

Asmara Eritrea - May 21st 2007

 

I visit the Lufthansa office to confirm my return flight, and the German embassy in the same building to make an appointment.

Close to the Saba building is a gate decorated with sunflowers. Every year around Independence Day an iron construction carrying one Eritrean flag for every year of independence is one of the most beautiful expressions of patriotism in Asmara.

Curious I decide to enter the gate. It is a metal works workshop. A production & welding facility for iron bar furniture, lamps and more. I compliment the owner for his beautiful gate. "I guess you are an Italian?", I ask him, looking at his Mediterranean face. "No, most of all I am an Eritrean!" he replies.

In the afternoon I try to find the location of the community feasts. Small local celebrations, like the one I visited in Medeber, two years ago. But no one seems to know. I visit Travel House International, hoping they can add something interesting to my agenda, and the National Holidays Coordinating Committee in the Expo area.

The community feasts are organized on a local level, and not the responsibility of the NHCC or the PFDJ. The chairman of the NHCC, mr. Mekonnen reminds me to the fact that details of the Eritrean flag has been changed recently, showing me the correct one. I ask him when the Festival Eritrea 2007 in the Expo area will start. "The opening ceremony is always on the last Friday of July. The festival is open for the public one day later, on Saturday", mr. Mekonnen states.

Mr. Mekkonnen also updates my agenda for the coming three days. There will be a carnival both this afternoon (18:00) and tomorrow afternoon (18:00). On May 23 there will be celebrations in Harnet Avenue in Harnet Avenue, with live music on several stages, and fireworks on May 24 (0:00). The main celebration will be in Asmara Stadium. Mr. Mekonnen kindly askes if I got an invitation. I have one for the good side, facing the show.

I visit the Tourism Information Office to get my travel permit for Keren. One needs such a permit to travel outside Asmara, and it will be checked at the so called "Sawa checks", where all transport is checked for deserters, illegal transport etc. The permit will cost you a few minutes at the Tourism Information Office in Harnet Avenue (and some time to collect it the next day) and 20 Nakfa. The permit will (have to) mention all places you intend to visit, and must be registered at the checkpoints in the so called immigration offices before entering the villages.

 The rest of the afternoon is for further data collection. People on the street and in bars tell me with some  enthusiasm that they have seen me on ERI-TV. They want to know what I think of the celebrations.

At 19:00 the carnival starts with the music of a marching band, followed by about 25 trucks, busses and cars, decorated with banners and light. Various institutions, factories and even residents of the 13 administrative areas of Asmara contribute to the carnival.

Some trucks have been furnished to function as stages for live music, others sound their horns/ posters and other gadgets are given to the students watching the carnival from the sidewalks. At Bahti Meskerem the parade turns, to repeat the show in the other direction, from Bahti Meskerem to Martyrs Avenue.

At 21:00 the feast is over and, after some Asmara beers, I return to the house if Gebrehiwot and Zewdi.

 

Decorated gate - Warsay Street Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated gate - Warsay Street Asmara Eritrea.

Magda - Travel House International - Asmara Eritrea.

Magda - Travel House International - Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated gate - Barka Wood, Plastic and Metal Works - Tegadelti Street Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated gate - Barka Wood, Plastic and Metal Works
Tegadelti Street Asmara Eritrea.

Military marching band - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Military marching band - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Military marching band - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Military marching band - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated truck (Natsnet Textile) - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated truck (Natsnet Textile) - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated truck (Barocko Garment) - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated truck (Barocko Garment) - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated truck (Eritrean Defense Forces) - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated truck (Eritrean Defense Forces) - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated trucks (Dongolo Mineral Water) - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated trucks (Dongolo Mineral Water) - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Cinema Roma by night - Semaetat Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Cinema Roma by night - Semaetat Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

 

 
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