Words can never be enough to describe how the two brotherly people were feeling at Asmara International Airport on the 18th of July 2018. Ethiopian Airline’s maiden flight to Asmara, following the peace deal between Eritrea and Ethiopia, was historical that is going to be remembered forever. The guests led by the former Prime Minster, Mr. Hailemariam Desalegne, were received colorfully by the Eritrean people who had been waiting for their arrival at the airport.
Today, Q&A speaks to some of the passengers; famous journalists, business persons and others who came to visit Asmara.
- -Jossy Ghebre, JTV Host
“I am overjoyed to be here today. I don’t think I can find words which are suitable to describe to what I am or the people who came with me are feeling at the moment. My heart stopped for a moment when the air plane landed at Asmara International Airport. I wish I had the time to calm down and talk about it later as I am very emotional right now. What shocked me the most is how the Eritreans welcomed us. We never expected to see these many people would come to the airport with so much love and provide us such hospitality.
This is my first time to be in Asmara. However, I know many Eritreans from around the world and wanted to visit the country for a very long time. Eritreans are unique people, full of love. We are two nations with one heart who finally get to be together after a very long time. There is so much we can accomplish together. We have so much potential within us; there are so many great artists who haven’t been discovered yet, many great journalists and business persons who can collaborate for a greater cause. We all can benefit greatly when we join forces, that is what I believe. In case you don’t know, I have worked on a song of the Eritrean music legend, late Tsehaytu Beraki, which I got permission for. Tsehaytu expressed her appreciation for the song and told me “you sang it well even though you don’t know the language well.” This was a motivation for me. Likewise, if we all could work together in various sectors we can move forward together. I am here for a week, but I am definitely going to come back very soon.
- -Asmelash Brhane, Photographer for the Ethiopian Airlines.
“I am a photographer; I own a photography shop in Addis. I grew up in Asmara. As a young boy I was working at Photo Bruni. The Italians took me to Addis Ababa to work with them and I am still in the profession. Besides, I have worked as the photographer for the Ethiopian Airlines for almost 37 years now.
Happiness is unlimited. And I cannot tell you how exultant we are feeling to be here today. I wish this feeling would go on forever for both of the brotherly people. Today, the reason I am here is to see my mother’s burial place. She is buried here, a funeral ceremony I didn’t attend. I am on my way to see it for the first time. So, I am filled with emotions that I can’t describe, but the only certain thing is that I know it is the ultimate happiness. I am also going to meet my sisters, after twenty years, today at Edaga Arbi, Asmara. I’ll be back to Ethiopia tomorrow but I am going to come back in two to three days. This is all God’s work. God has made us witness this day and I am happy to be alive today.
- -Mikiyas Tesfaye, Pilot for the Ethiopian Airlines
“I have never been to Asmara before, but I have always wanted to see it as I grew up with Eritreans and Ethiopians who grew up in Asmara. It was a festive atmosphere in the airplane, people were dancing and shouting and crying at some point. We noticed how the Eritreans welcomed our Prime Mister Dr. Abiy Ahmed. Nonetheless, we never expected these many people would be here to welcome us. Everyone is emotional.
- -Zinash kalayu, Fana Tv reporter
“I am a reporter, and I am here to report and get stories. Around six journalists from various channels including camera men have come. Today, being a journalist challenged me, as I was part of the merriments where families were reuniting after 20 years of being apart. I couldn’t control my emotions and I broke down with tears. Not only as a journalist, but as an Ethiopian, today, I realized that both our people have been yearning for this day. I can’t even begin to imagine how the families who haven’t seen each other in a long time are feelings right now.
This all happened within a very short time. Sometimes it feels like a dream. And sometimes when you realize that it is real, you thank your God. The Ethiopian media have been giving this situation a vast coverage. We worked focusing on the people since it’s all about the people. This is a prayer that God has answered for our people.
- -Girum Chala, CGTN Correspondent
“When the problem started back in the day, I was in high school. All my friends who I grew up with were expelled from the country. Since then I have wanted to see this country. But I couldn’t since I was too young then. My father was an Ethiopian soldier who served in Assab and Massawa. There is a lot of history that I wanted to re-connect with, and, after twenty years, this is still a dream for me. I can’t believe I am finally here.
By the way, it is amazingly a complete circle when it comes to what the Ethiopian people are feeling at the moment. This is a brother nation, a sister nation, this is where half our blood is. Can you tell anything apart from each other? Both the leaders have taken this in the most unexpected manner and timing as well. Yes, Ethiopians all over the world are excited.
I am an international journalist working for CGTN as a correspondent in the continent. I had the pleasure of meeting Eritrea’s President in a close range. It was thrilling and mesmerizing. What we used to think about him was clearly out of context. Mr. President is a very friendly person. We are proud to have him around and for being the most humble person. I plan to come back more often. And as my future plan, I want to work on promoting Eritrea, its tourism, economy and the culture.
- -Dr. Mariqos Feleke, Business person
It was an exciting journey. I am a physician and a business man. I was impressed by the power of love of both countries, and that is the reason I am here today. Also, to see an opportunity of collaboration so that we can make up for the time we have lost in the past twenty years. There is huge potential for both countries to go forward. Mutual development is what we should aim for. We have much bigger enemy, which is poverty. This is my first time to Eritrea, and I am pleased to be here and I would like to thank the Eritrean people who have given us great hospitality since we arrived. It is clear to see that we have been missing each other.