Festival Bologna has been among the vivid gatherings of Eritreans outside Eritrea. It is the love they always cherish in their mind that enabled all Eritreans contribute what they could in support of the struggle for independence. All in kind and monetary contributions were made possible through staging cultural shows and also through dinner receptions in which all Eritreans from Italy, Germany, UK, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Israel, Australia, Greece, Belgium, France and Holland gather and raise funds. A number of influential and interested foreigners were also invited to take part in such an Eritrean gathering. Thus, Festival of Eritrea in Bologna was highly instrumental towards boosting economic capability and strengthening political activities of the EPLF in a great deal.
In 1983, different development programs organized in different parts of Europe helped in the establishment of plastic sandal and womenswear factories in liberated areas that were administrated by EPLF. Other contributions include initiatives taken by Eritreans in the abroad to improve living standards of Eritreans in the homeland, combat draught occurrences of 1984, and implement literacy program between 1989 and 1991 among other programs.
A total of US dollar 1.5 million was then sent from Eritrean communities in the abroad to the EPLF. The monetary and also in kind contributions of Eritrean communities were also redoubled each year. Such contribution enabled the freedom fighters have access to some basic needs.
Despite being hit by drought, all Eritreans inside the country were very keen to assist the freedom fighters with whatever they have at hand. It is this unremitting effort of nationals at home that motivated all Eritreans in the abroad to be engaged in activities of assisting their fellow Eritreans so as to combat any occurrence of drought.
Efforts exerted by Eritrean Rehabilitation Association (ERA) in alleviating problems that occurred during a period of drought indeed deserve appreciation. Apart from the many contributions it made in assisting nationals in different parts of the country, in 1985 ERA distributed about 17,330 quintals of seed to 113,493 farmers.
All incomes generated from Eritrean festival in Bologna were then directed to assist nationals in need and also to strengthen EPLF’s capability.
Construction of houses for war displaced nationals, provision of healthcare service, and constriction of schools were among the priorities. What is more is that a number of families were rehabilitated through small-scale business activities.
Almost all programs mapped out in the 1980s were directed towards assisting nationals who were affected by the severe war.
Besides regular Educational service, “Education for All” was introduced in 1988 so as to broaden the access to education to a wider range of the Eritrean population.
This strong feeling of communalities and unshakable attachment to their homeland has again been proven in the 40th anniversary of the festival held in bologna from 4-6 July 2014.As before, thousands of Eritreans flocked to a historic Bologna and reminisced of the day before independence and also enjoyed the blessings of independence.
Youths of 1974 who are now senior citizens, children of that period who are now in their middles ages, and children as well as youth of the post-independence period and generally people from all walks of life have made the 40 anniversary of Bologna festival- an event to be cherished in mind for a life time.
Like before independence, Eritreans from different European countries, from America and from different parts of the world have sojourned to a historic Bologna, to a place where the seed of Eritrean unity in the abroad was planted through their participation.
They enjoyed a festive moment with member of their leadership who took part and enjoyed the festival with their people. They all changed Bologna a mini Eritrea.
Bologna continues to enjoy the voice of Eritrea and Eritreans, enjoyed the unity of Eritreans which it has been accustomed to since some forty years back. Bologna finds this unity has by far been strengthened and the number of pilgrims has been redoubled.
In this festive event, all Eritreans gathered in one platform any enjoyed cultural shows staged by cultural troupes from the homeland. The atmosphere in bologna was then filled with Eritrean spirit. Everybody there started to inhale an Eritrean aroma. European land and an Eritrean culture what a unique fusion.
Through the seminars by different government officials from Eritrea, and through the cultural shows and staging of an eye catching exhibition which is a pictorial deception of a festival that continued for four decades and so much more, all Eritreans felt as if they are in their homeland for all presented in there by all standards us uniquely Eritrean.
Eritrean in festival in Bologna which has been celebrated recently by Eritreans from different parts of the world was then closed on 6th July 2014. Awards were then delivered to veteran founders of the festival before 40 years, to individuals, ministries and communities who made due contribution in marking the 40th anniversary of Eritrean Festival in Bologna.
Present at the closing ceremony of the 40th anniversary, Ambassador Zemede Tekle, who is also among the founders of this festival said that festival Eritrea in Bologna has a dignified place and depth of meaning in the history of the struggle for independence and the contribution of all Eritreans who were members of mass organizations.
The 40 anniversary of Eritrean festival in Bologna was observed by nationals from different parts of the world as well as by foreigners.