The 5th Eritrean Youth Festival will be held in Sawa from 13 to 15 July 2012. This festival is basically of the youths, but people from all walks of life have been part of it. The main objective of the youths gathering is to enable Eritrean youths throughout the country and also youths from abroad share experiences among each other. Every two years, in the summer time, it has been a gathering where youths demonstrate their talent in varied disciplines. It is simultaneously a give and take relationship which has been fostered among the youths. Every youth could find some grand values to share and experiences to gain from Sawa’s festival. It is from this outlook that youths eagerly wait to be part of upcoming festival. In this festival, parents and other visitors get a chance to see what the potentials of the youths are and children get inspired of what the role model youths have accomplished and of the talents the youths have to offer them. Below is an excerpt of the interview conducted with Mr. Ibrahim Hassen, NUEYS’ chairperson of holidays coordinating committee, in connection with the preparations that have been made to colorfully hold the 5th National Youth Festival.
Mr. Ibrahim, let’s begin with the primary objective of the National Youth Festival?
The major aim of the festival is to open a venue for mutual experience sharing among youths from different parts of the country and youths from abroad. The festival has also been a venue for awareness rising programs. It has also been a platform where youths identify their talents and display their work accomplishments every two years. This festival indeed is an occasion where unity, commitment, and hardworking nature of youths have by far been nurtured and where the youths learn their culture and dig deep into it through the cultural shows staged there. All in all, the primary objective of this festival is to increase youths’ awareness through the seminars and presentations of research papers and thereby ensure major participation of youths in the country’s development programs. Almost all programs of this year’s festival would mainly be focused on reflecting what contributions have the youths’ made in different sectors in the last 20 years.
What sort of programs can we expect in this 5th festival?
Most of the programs have repetitively been staged in every festival. Such regular programs include cultural shows, traditional sports competitions, other traditional talent shows, presentation of research papers, and key note seminars.
Have you introduced any new program?
As the primary objective of the festival has been to acknowledge youths’ contributions and talents, what is uniquely introduced in this year’s festival is that to identify, encourage and to award talented youths who have made unique contributions in the last 20 years. What pushed to the introduction of this awarding program is that to further encourage youths’ creative ability in reinforced manner.
How has women’s participation been handled?
Women’s participation is among the programs in which special focus have been given. The programs are arranged in a manner that ensures equal participation of men and women. The work directives have been stressing on giving equal opportunity without and sort of gender bias. Thus, all the preparations made in the previous festivals and the competitions organized had been in a way that ensures participation of men and women alike and this year’s festival would not be different in this respect. There would be also equal participation of women in research paper presentations aimed at increasing youths’ awareness and varied development programs of the country addressing from the bottom line. The issues that would be discussed on the papers will focus on the contribution of youths in varied developments programs carried out in the past 20 years, their participation in the overall national programs, and their awareness in vast disciplines. These papers are open for discussions.
Cultural and sports activities have been staged in each youths festival. Could you brief us about the organization and the sorts of competitions we are going to expect?
The competitions have been arranged in a way that participates youths from inside the country and from abroad. If we see on the sports competitions, for instance, teams from Europe and the Middle East will compete with teams of higher educational institutions. And in the cultural programs, all the six regions of the country have beforehand been making due preparations to perform traditional and modern cultural shows. All the regions are now about to finalize their preparations. The cultural competitions are expected to inspire and increase youths’ cultural know-how.
Taking in to account that the festival should not be confined just to celebrations of three days, sports and cultural shows have already been conducted earlier in the cities of Asmara, Mendefera and Keren and winners of the competitions will travel to perform in Sawa. There will be also a concert and a half marathon running contest in Asmara.
What could you tell us about cultural troupes from diaspora?
Yes, cultural groups of Eritrean youths from abroad will participate. EriAm Sisters and other cultural groups will perform in Sawa. We have also invited other cultural groups to give additional color to the festival.
What are the expectations about the participation of observers in terms of number and if preparations have been made to accommodate greater number of people?
In each festival, there have been a growing number of participants. Youths form inside the country and also from abroad would be participating in greater number than before. We are expecting that, there would be participation of over 30 thousand people. We are also making due preparations to avoid any sort of shortcoming. Service givers will definitely be increased. All in all, we have been working to ensure that efficient services would be rendered. We have been working hard to realize that participants of the festival should get sufficient accommodations and supplies of foods and drinks. A committee that has been setup to facilitate such services continues to exert efforts towards that end. We are very optimistic that this festival would be held colorfully with the collaboration of Sawa Center of Education and Vocational Training, Harat Transportations Company, the Ministry of Tourism and all regional administrations.