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Festival Eritrea 2018: Peace for Sustainable Development

Eritreans eagerly await the national festival which is annually held in the Expo grounds. Cultural groups of six regions and nine ethnic groups present their welcoming songs and dances. The nine ethnic groups, lined up on two sides of the gateway to expo grounds, welcomed President Isaias Afwerki, Ministers, PFDJ officials and members of the diplomatic corp. Accompanied by ululation of mothers, dances and songs of cultural groups, President Isaias officially opened Festival Eritrea 2018.

All regions have been preparing in a way that reflects the peace and reconciliation agreement reached between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Various cultural shows and exhibitions that depict the new era of peace and development are being staged starting from the morning hours of 31st August.

President Isaias observed the pavilions of the six regions that showcased various cultural, economic, agricultural industrial and natural assets. A pictorial exhibition titled “History of Eritrea in Pictures”, staged by the Research and Documentation Center (RDC) is a narrative of historic events held in different eras. Photographs of the struggle for independence, events of the historic 1993 referendum, rehabilitation programs, development undertakings accomplished in the post-independence period, and photographs of the historic peace deal between Eritrea and Ethiopia are included in the exhibition. President Isaias observed the pictorial exhibition and was briefed by Ms. Azieb Tewelde, head of the Research and Documentation Center.

The national festival is a depiction of mini Eritrea in its entirety. Multifaceted assets of tangible and intangible heritages are always staged during the ten-day annual festival.

The premises of the expo grounds are now decorated with different large-size posters that are reflective of the livelihoods of the Eritrean people, tourism attraction areas, cultural dances and other national assets. A wide range of invention and renovation works, exhibition of mining companies, products of leather and textile factories and that of other industrial plants area also being showcased for visitors of Festival 2018. Book fair is also part of the national festival and readers are encouraged to buy books at a fair price.

The pavilion of the central region has hoisted the national banners of countries in the greater Horn of Africa. This exhibition shows the prospects of sustainable development with all countries in the horn of Africa coming together. The display of national flags of various African countries in the Horn of Africa suits this year’s theme “Peace for sustainable development” as a way forward for a prosperous region.

Rock art is also part of the display staged in the pavilion of the central region. What this exhibition shows is all about greater Asmara civilization that existed 900 years before the rise of the Aksumite Kingdom. Various ancient ceramic relics from different areas of the greater Asmara and representation of cave sculptures from Himbirti (Central region) are staged.

Apart from the industrial, agricultural and cultural shows, the pavilion of Southern region staged an audio visual presentation of a sphinx and other relics excavated in the areas around kohayto, Keskese Belowkelow and of the obelisk of Metera. Other items related to customary laws are also part of the exhibition. Various food recipes prepared only from barley are indicative of how economically one can boost daily nutrition through various means.

Festival Eritrea is an occasion where the beauty of Eritrea is showcased. Livelihood of the Eritrean people and cultural shows of the nine ethic groups are the most exciting programs. Eritreans and visiting tourists are now busy capturing mesmerizing moments. They march to the dance floors of the nine ethnic groups that represent the six regions of the country. They capture through their lenses an event they wish to document for future references.

The atmosphere of this year’s festival is filled with the prospects of peace. Thus, the shows are prepared in a way which reflects the new development. Much of the contents of the lyrics of the songs are dedicated to peace.

The Bilen ethnic group, for instance, has come up with songs that represent the benefits of mutual respect, peace and love. The presentation of a cultural group from the Anseba region in Bilen language includes four themes in one song. Kis is one sort of dance of the Bilen. Through this performance the young men and women embracing one another express the festive event and while this was going on the lyrics went on to express a beauty of a young lady which seems to be unreachable unless one has a divine power.

There are other performances are about peace. Peace is all we want. We marched in haste to rejoice for we have achieved what we lost for long and thus we are overwhelmed by the festivity is what expressed in this presentation.

Aromuna, which is translated as weeding, is all about farm, forestation and other development undertakings. It is an inspirational song which states that it is a blessing to work together and share the fruits of the toils and moils.
Shitel also holds a theme of peace and tranquility. Let our deep rooted aspiration be expressed, let’s dance and enjoy and let our heart be filled with merriment as it is time for get-together.

Tio’y or Hebo is an epic and also an elegy song through which acts of heroism and lamentation are expressed.

Other dances and songs of the Bilen included Sasit, Kis, Wodsomya and Chefera mostly played by adults. While Hda, Wodet, Bangur, Kurtih, Yalel, Merkob, Telek, Ashewye, Embozlambo, Tkob, Kerachit, kelet, Dama, Enkurqura, Dgm, Brilhumbak and Ftata are children’s dances.

The expo grounds are now hosting these cultural assets. All the nine ethnic groups and the six regions have began to present what they have in the national festival. Bibo and Okwas are traditional shows of the Hidareb which are played at times of happiness and festivity. Donib is played by women while Sera is a dance of girls and boys. Baded Gebib, translated as sword and shield, is also another impressive performance. Thaba is only danced with the accompaniment of a musical instrument.

The expo grounds-a platform of cultural shows and a reflection of Eritrea’s multi faceted assets is a venue where one understands the unity in diversity. Shelil is divided as Gni, Batar, Mesenqo, Embir Sewakn, or Zar. It is a cultural asset of the Tigre ethnic group.

All tribes and kinsmen of the Tigre ethnic group have their own dance styles. Wodsomya is divided into 28 divisions in the Marya kinsmen. Measho (Chefera), Gngr (Golya) are danced by men and women at times of happiness. Hibo, on the contrary, is sung in times of grief. Women dress themselves as men and express their deep sorrow. Habushayeketa and Embiliwata are dances of children. Berig is another sort of dance in which men jump to the air moving their swords as if they are warriors. It is a dance of triumph and heroism. Negarit is a drum beat usually in times of war to summon residents to defend their territories from invasion.

All the cultural assets coupled with other educational and entertainment programs are being staged in the expo grounds. All the other ethnic groups are also staging attention grabbing shows. Festival Eritrea 2018 has now begun with such shows and it will continue for one week. It is indeed a time of get together for all nationals. Happy Festival.

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