After a week of laud cheers that dominated Asmara from mornings to late night, the National Festival of Eritrea ended on Saturday the 8th of September with heightened fervor. The National Festival is loved and cherished dearly by the Eritrean people as it has great meaning and deep memories.
For Eritreans coming together for any call of life is a norm. Having nowhere to get together in 1984*, Eritrean migrants met in Bologna, Italy, for the very first ‘Eritrean’ festival. After that moment Eritreans from around the world camped out in Bologna for days to celebrate the festival and, of course, figure out how to assist the armed struggle for Independence. Following Eritrea’s Independence the Eritrean people brought the custom of the Bologna Festival home, to the capital Asmara, establishing an annual National Festival for Eritreans from all corners of the nation and the world to come together in one place and celebrate their famed harmony within their cultural and religious diversity. Eritreans from all six regions and all nine ethnic groups from all over Eritrea join hands in preparing a week of colorful merriments.
The National Festival is probably is one of the most anticipated events of the year. The Eritrean Commission of Culture and Sport works closely with community representatives and pertinent bodies, each year, to make the annual festival unforgettable.
As all sorts of efforts and imaginations are vested upon it, the festival has been growing by the year. After a week of success and gaiety the National Festival 2018 was officially closed in the evening of Saturday the 8th of September.
At the official concluding ceremony held in G3 Hall, Expo, which was attended by government high officials, ministers, ambassadors and hundreds of Eritreans, Commissioner of Culture and Sport, Ambassador Zemede said that the purpose behind the people’s festival is to exchange culture, to reserve and pass down to generations the Eritrean heritage, to portray the Eritrean identity, to share knowledge and information, to boost local artistry, to introduce new talents in all fields and above all to strengthen the people’s unity.
The Commissioner went on to explain that the National Festival of 2018 was a special one as it was celebrated in an atmosphere of peace that Eritrea recently embarked on. He said that people celebrated with a savor of peace.
In line with the success of the Festival, the Commissioner praised the people’s collaboration and the government’s investment on the national event. He passed his gratitude to students, artists, social service providers, security forces, technicians, journalists, zonal and sub zonal administrations and the Eritrean people at large for their wholehearted devotion towards the success of the festival. He finally expressed his confidence that the festival, a longstanding reflection of the unity amongst the Eritrean people, is a pride that will grow as time passes thanks to the unity and love of Eritreans of all ages.
The annual festival spirit is heightened by the awarding ceremony that is held at the closing ceremony. Medals and awards were given to cultural troupes, inventors, artists, comedians and others.
The G3 hall was overcrowded by people enthusiastic to see the outcome of competitions. Participants don’t normally represent only themselves but their schools and institutions. As for the cultural competitions, they represent their regions, while singers and comedians represent themselves.
Journalist and author, Mr. Selemun Berhe, on behalf of the committee of judges, gave an explanation of the criteria the committee followed in determining winners. Journalist Suleiman Abe gave a thorough analysis of the cultural performances and exhibitions presented in the festival.
Upon the announcement of the Northern Region as the overall winner for all the exhibitions the region put out in the festival in multiple categories, inhabitants of the region and participants representing the region started dancing in the hall and some had already gone out running with the trophy in the premises of Expo grounds. Their overflowing joy reverberated out of Expo to be heard in other parts of Asmara.
The committee praised the exhibitions that were able to represent Eritrea at all levels. They also gave genuine criticism that participants should work on for next year.
The National Festival comprises a big number of categories and activities. In the cultural segments, cultural troupes took time in digging out cultural heritages and traits that are not seen commonly. Their efforts served not only in shading light on heritages from the past by giving the larger public knowledge on the culture, but also served as a reminder that nothing should be forgotten. The oral traditions, indigenous knowledge and more cultural traits from each ethic group shared with the visitors of the festival rang a bell in the minds of many on regards to the traditional abundance Eritrea is endowed with. In the artistic field people praised the paintings and sculptures that symbolize the historic peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Moreover, the talent of the ever enthusiast Eritrean youth was highly reflected in the innovations they made with dreams of contributing towards national growth. The evening hours were reserved for concerts, cultural enactments, stage dramas and standup comedies. People had good times dancing the night away to their favorite singers and laughing to the amusement brought by actors and comedians.
Every year, the festival gives a chance for new features and new ideas. Few of the many novel pursuits introduced in the Festival 2018 were the open area painting where professional painters took their kits out and painted to the delight of art enthusiasts, the movable theater where the same story was staged in different places directing people through the grounds of Expo to follow the act as it moved from one stage to another, and last but not least, the prolonged staging of standup comedies where the public enjoyed comedians’ satires and jokes.
The annual Festival ended great patriotic zeal, reminding everyone, that there is no better way of knowing the true colors of Eritreans than seeing them partying and spending time together.