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May 2011
Celebrating Eritrea's
20th Independence Day
 
Congratulations Eritrea
Eritrea - May 24 2009 - 18th Independence Day
20th Independence Day
 

 

Asmara Eritrea May 23 2011

 

Terhas informed me that there will be local celebrations in the Denbe Sembel School not far from our residence. So after my morning walk through the center of Asmara, I walk to the school around 1:00 PM.

With a few word in English and gesticulation, I am directed towards to correct entrance. 

The auditorium / sports hall of the school is transformed into a celebration hall with hundreds of Eritrean flags in all sizes.

There are two queues. I line up in one of them, as number last to await what happens. A lady picks me out of the queue. For I moment I wonder why I have to leave the row of waiting people. A few seconds later I know: I should not be the last man waiting, but the first, as a special guest.

I take a safe portion of injera and meat stew. The lady sitting next to me suggests that I should eat more, but for me it is enough. Asmara beer is is for free as well. The Eritrean women next to me and in front of me do their best to get me a second one.

After drinking my beers, I want to dance. I go to the front and wait for the right moment (which is basically my favorite music, and one or more women challenging me).

While I am waiting, one of the teachers, unaware of the fact that I am waiting to join the dancing crowd, fetches my a chair, so I do not have to stand.

When the DJ starts a rhythmic Bilen song, I join the women of the Bilen ethnic group, and I dance with them and the children. Later I will dance on Tigrinya music as well. more beer is my reward.

At 5:00 PM the party is finished. The organizing party thanks me for joining their party. But it is me who  should be grateful that I was treated with so much hospitality.

After diner I take a taxi to the center of Asmara, to join the street dancing crowd on Harnet Avenue for the eve of Independence Day. Thousands of Asmarinos enjoy the live music from several stages, and around 10:00 PM it is hard to move between the people. In the cafes and bars all the seats are occupied.

Photographers of various photo shops make pictures of families posing in front of the colorful Independence Day illumination. For ten Nakfa the family will receive a souvenir of this years celebration. Eritreans are fond of pictures, and so am I. Again I am happy to share them with you.

The eve of Independence Day is a 'must' for any visitor to Eritrea. The Eritreans had to fight for 30 years for their independence, and experience 30 years of Ethiopian occupation with pilfer and plunder, where all other African countries received their independence on a golden plate.

Eritrea was the only country out of 53 former European colonies in Africa that was denied its independence. Eritrea had to fight for its rights against Ethiopia, backed by the USSR and the US.

And the 'situation' of no war no peace still prevails. Still Ethiopia, supported by the US administration, is refusing to implement the final and binding EEBC decisions *). But still any white man (or woman) can walk anywhere, any time, without any fear for revenge or harassment.

When I pass the Toyota pickup of the Eri-TV team, one of the men asks me if it is okay to ask me some questions about the celebrations, and Eritrea in general.

In front of the ERI-TV camera, I tell him about the improvements I have experienced in two decades of independence. Roads, public transport, hotels and residential housing complexes, new hospitals and heath stations, new dams and potable water supplies, the revival of the railway,  despite the hostility and animosity of their neighbor Ethiopia.

One thing however did not change: the honesty, friendliness, and hospitality of the Eritrean people, making every day of my stay in Eritrea very safe, enjoyable, and special. I am so happy to be here on Harnet Avenue, to celebrate Independence Day with them. Yohanna Ertra!

One hour earlier than expected at 11:00 PM, fireworks light the sky above Harnet Avenue. I wait another hour for the bells of the Catholic Cathedral to announce May 24 2011. Time to walk back home to my Sembel residence. 

 

 

Bar Zilly - Knowledge Street Asmara Eritrea.

Bar Zilly - Knowledge Street Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated shop - Knowledge Street Asmara Eritrea.

Decorated shop - Knowledge Street Asmara Eritrea.

Cinema Asmara - Beleza Street Asmara Eritrea.

Cinema Asmara - Beleza Street Asmara Eritrea.

Independence Day statue - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Independence Day statue - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Protest against unfair UN sanctions - Sematat Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Protest against unfair UN sanctions - Sematat Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Protest against unfair UN sanctions - Sematat Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Protest against unfair UN sanctions - Sematat Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Protest against unfair UN sanctions - Sematat Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Protest against unfair UN sanctions - Sematat Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Denbe Sembel School - Sembel Housing Complex Asmara Eritrea.

Denbe Sembel School - Sembel Housing Complex Asmara Eritrea.

Independence Day Celebration - Denbe Sembel School Asmara.

Independence Day Celebration - Denbe Sembel School Asmara.

Independence Day Celebration - Denbe Sembel School Asmara.

Independence Day Celebration - Denbe Sembel School Asmara.

Independence Day Celebration - Denbe Sembel School Asmara.

Independence Day Celebration - Denbe Sembel School Asmara.

Independence Day Celebration - Denbe Sembel School Asmara.

Independence Day Celebration - Denbe Sembel School Asmara.

Independence Day Celebration - Denbe Sembel School Asmara.

Independence Day Celebration - Denbe Sembel School Asmara.

Live music City Park stage - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Live music City Park stage - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

People gathered on the steps of the Cathedral - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

People gathered on the steps of the Cathedral - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Midnight fireworks - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

Midnight fireworks - Harnet Avenue Asmara Eritrea.

 


*) December 12, 2000 Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a peace agreement in Algiers, after a 2 1/2-year border war.

Article 4, sub article 15 reads as follows: “The parties agree that the delimitation and demarcation of the Commission shall be final and binding. Each party shall respect the border so determined as well as territorial integrity and sovereignty of the other party”.

On April 13th 2002 the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague published the conclusions of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission.

In September 2003 Ethiopia's Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, formally informed the Security Council that Ethiopia rejected the decisions of the International Boundary Commission (arbitration of the International Court in the Hague). He declared the proposed 1 000 km international border drafted by the commission as "null and void".

This disrespect of Ethiopia for the decisions of the Court of Justice in The Hague has practically halted the peace process.

  

 
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