Today the 40th anniversary of Bologna has kicked off with vibrant participation of Eritreans from all walks of life and age and from all corners of the world. For many the occasion would be a platform to go back to the early days of the festival and remember the happy days, the days of determination of every one participant to contribute his/her part in the Eritrean struggle for independence, and above all the unity of the Eritrean people that has been demonstrated there. And some are there to learn and listen to what has been going on in Bologna festival in the days of the armed struggle, the role of Eritreans in Diaspora, Eritrean nationals coming together in one compound in the city to discuss the objective situation in the field and their contribution towards the armed struggle. Indeed they have a lot to learn and gain experience that could add impetus to their ongoing role in the process of nation building.
The inception of Bologna festival began with the gathering of few Eritreans in 1970 in Munich, Germany. That was not as such a festival in its latest form but a kind of congress in which the Eritrean nationals come together to discuss the situation in the Homeland and the progress of the armed struggle. In 1972 with the birth of the People’s Forces the same gathering of Eritreans had been conducted there for the second time. And in 1973 in Pavia (Italy). That has been from here that the idea of conducting yearly festivals in Bologna has been initiated. Hence, from 1974 up to 1991, the total independence of Eritrea, every year in August Eritrean Festival has been conducted in Bologna.
The Bologna Festival has had a dual role. First it has been an occasion in which every Eritrean irrespective of ethnicity and religion come to gather for one and one objective. To express resolve that they would do anything to their capacity to show the wide world that the Eritrean struggle for independence had not been the responsibility of the few that were sacrificing their lives for the nation but also it was every Eritrean’s desire and determination wherever they are. Secondly, Eritreans have been coming to Bologna with the aim to contribute their share for the development of the armed struggle. Hence, Bologna festival has been playing in unifying resolve and commitment of the Eritrean people to the cause of their country.
Every year cultural troupes come to Bologna not only to entertain the participants but also with their presentation directly and indirectly inform the audience with the progress of the armed struggle. The songs and drams they used to present used to tell their stories; major victories of the struggle and the weakening of the enemy by the day. Seminars by senior leaders of the EPLF have been also conducted. Those seminars have been essential to the festival participants to exactly understand where the revolution is heading and the achievements so far gained both militarily and diplomatically.
This year’s Bologna festival is being conducted to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the festival commencement. From 1974 to 2014 is exactly 40 years. In these three days festival the participants would not only concentrate on the past events of the festival. They would have the opportunity to get first hand information on the current economic, social and political situation in the Homeland through the seminars and lectures that would be conducted. Moreover, the participants would have the opportunity to transfer the good cultural values that has been demonstrated in the past festivals to the young generation that are participating for the first time. The experience on how to challenge external conspiracies and come out victorious and to tell the youth that such a character has been the Eritrean culture for long, during the armed struggle for independence until to date.
Happy Festival celebrations!