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When Rain Joins the Independence Day Celebrations

Was May of last year as rainy as May of this year! People have short memories when it comes to weather. If you find certain days in Asmara unduly hot or cold and you are from Asmara, then you must have changed a lot.

Sometimes the whole of Asmara spectacle comes and goes in minutes, fascinatingly local when a kilometer or two down the road remains bone dry. The weather feels personal, purging, and inside the storms is another, existential world. Or that’s how it felt, broken down on the motorway. Mercifully in the afternoon hours of Independence eve this past Thursday evening, I was in a cafe shop, even lucky enough to have a seat by the windows and once the rain started it was hard not to glance through the windows and enjoy the rain pouring down, to see the clean city of Asmara celebrating its Independence week in such heavenly weather that adds something special to the festivities.

Our independence day could have fallen on the month of November or December, where the sun sets at 6 o’clock and the cold Siberian wind causes everybody to hurry up after work to the warmth of home and the family leaving the streets of Asmara to people with cars and to those who enjoy their beers once in a while.

“Hi, Astier, it has been ages. Do you live in Asmara?”

“No, I have just arrived from Germany to celebrate Independence Day?”

“Is that your daughter?…..Hi, little girl!”

“She can speak Tigrigna. I have taught her myself.”

“Where is Haile (her husband)?”

“He is coming in August for the festival.”

May be the trip was expensive for both. And Haile had to save money by working summer. After all he can celebrate Independence Day in Germany and Festival Eritrea here. And it would be the other way round for Astier.

Why Eritrea was freed in May and not in January or in February can only be answered by analyzing a lot of variables and paradigms. It is like cutting down a big tree. You go on hacking at it with an axe. But no one can tell precisely when the tree will fall down.

By the way, does it matter at all to know the exact time? Not much.

But the season matters to some extent. As far as independence is concerned it may not matter, but as far as celebrating independence is concerned (with street plays, bands performing in open stages, strolling down Harnet Avenue, etc.) season seems to matter a lot.

Rain can sometimes spoil the festivity, but I have never witnessed big festivals marred by rainstorm. It is said that it happened in America one 4th of July. The rain came and spoiled everything. The next day, a certain newspaper ran this headline. The Most Unfourthnate July!

I think neither rain nor storm, nor should heat or cold be allowed to dim the enthusiasm and zeal in celebrating independence days.

Of course, the dancing and merriment cannot be the same in the rain under a clear and starry sky. But since dancing is an outward expression of inner joy, the latter can never be dampened down by rain or hailstorm. At least for the majority.

“Hi, Rajul so you are taking a stroll like everybody else?”

“There is festive mood everywhere; it makes me happy to see smiling faces.”

“Are you watching some of the performances?”

“Yes, I think Independence Day is celebrated in a very unique manner in this country.”

“Indeed. Besides, don’t forget this is being celebrated at such an important time in the history of this country and region.”

By the way, most of the 14 of July dancers in Paris have only a vague knowledge of the revolution, and if they danced at all, that was because they were programmed to dance on that day. That’s what their ancestors have been doing for the last two centuries.

However, most dancers in Bahti Meskerem or Harnet Avenue know about their revolution first hand. Some had taken part in it and have lost a limb or an eye as a result.

“How do you think they celebrate in Dekemhare or Massawa?

“The same as in here. There may be more facilities and varieties here, but the enthusiasm is the same everywhere.”

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