For some reason, the earlier post's text was truncated. Here goes again.
Reportage of Eritrean Western USA Festival, Oakland, CA
By Sam Y.
Indeed, the 2012 Western US Eritrean Festival held in Oakland, CA, from Friday 10th to Sunday 12th, 2012, was a great success. The turnout both for the day activities and for the evening cultural events was high. It was uplifting to see true Eritrean spirit at display by both the organizers and the participants alike. From young kids to the YPFDJ lead youth, and the veteran abotat and adetat, it was marvelous to see and experience Eritreans getting together, celebrating their culture, and affirming their support for their government and people. The organizers have done it again. Year after year, the festival gets better and better!
The day time activities were held at Oakland International High School. The place was crowded throughout the weekend, buzzing with music (“hizbey” by the beautiful Fiyori Tekeste and “maHla” by Shilan are still ringing in my head! ) and the different sporting activities and seminars. The qushetat manned by the adetat of the Bay Area did not disappoint either, indulging the crowd with a variety of foods and drinks including bun, s’wa and mies. What a delightful scene and experience! The evening cultural events were equally mesmerizing. Fatinga, Bereket, Tareqe and the various local artists have done a tremendous job in entertaining the crowd.
While I enjoyed every bit of all the festival activities, the highlights for me this year were the panel discussion and seminars that were held throughout the three days event.
The first event of the festival was a panel discussion held on Saturday. The panelists were our own Elias Amare, Ephrem Madebo of Ginbot 7 and Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report. The discussion was moderated by Issayas Tesfamariam. Elias discussed the Eritrean status and its role in constructive peace engagement in our region. His analysis on the media coverage of Eritrea before & after1998 and what has transpired for the shift in coverage to occur vis-à-vis Eritrea’s firm stance in its independent path was very educational and informative.
Mr. Ephrem Madebo, head of PR of Ginbot 7’s presentation was also similarly illuminating. He talked at length about the cause of the current crises in Ethiopia, the consequence for the region and the path forward for peaceful coexistence. During the derg era, fresh out college, Ephrem was sent to work in Eritrea for about 5 years. The carnage he has witnessed during his stay in Eritrea, which he recounted with some examples, must have had an influence in his thinking. I am not familiar with the politics of Ginbot 7, but listening & talking to Ephrem, the head of the diplomatic/foreign relations of the organization, I cannot help but wonder if the elites of Ethiopia are coming to their senses when it comes to their relationship with Eritrea. Only time will tell…
Last to speak in the panel discussion was Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report. It was a unique experience to hear Glen Ford in person. He has this ability to deliver his insightful analysis in very succinct sentences and with a powerful commanding voice. A true radio personality I suppose. Glen’s talk was focused on the intervention of the US in Africa.
Have you ever wondered why Eritrea is almost always referred to as a “strategically located” country? Glen, explains that a country earns that label if it in the cross hairs of the US. He says, “a country becomes strategic in the eyes of the United States, when it fails to fall in line with US imperialism’s global strategy… it [the country] at that point becomes a very important place on the planet”. He brings his experience as a journalist covering Grenada during the US invasion in the 80’s (in which he has written a book I believe) to emphasize this point.
Glen continues to describe how the re-colonization of Africa is well underway through AFRICOM, the US Africa Command. He talked about how AFRICOM, has devised an ingenious way of penetrating the sovereignty of African countries by establishing military-to-military relationships. These relationships are used to keep the leadership of these countries in check and at the same time to give an African face to hegemonic wars in the continent. Currently, with the exception of three countries, i.e., Eritrea, Sudan and Zimbabwe, AFRICOM has a military-to-military relationship with all countries in Africa.
It is a disservice to the panelists to try to summarize their talk in a few paragraphs. Hopefully, we will get the video of the presentations posted soon.
After a brief break, the main seminar of the festival was conducted by His Excellency Ambassador Araya Desta, Eritrea’s Permanent Representative to the UN. Ambassador Araya talked about the various development activities that are being undertaken in the country, including the mining industry, the investing opportunities for the diaspora Eritreans and the planned Investment Conference to be held in Asmara at the end of this month. On the diplomatic front, the Ambassador gave explanation on the different ploys that are being weaved against Eritrea at the UN and its various agencies, how those actions are received in the international community and what Eritrea is doing to counter these ploys.
The final presentations of the festival were conducted on Sunday afternoon by our own Issayas Tesfamariam and Elias Amare. The talks, focused on using writing and “soft power” in meKete, were very enlightening. The gentlemen will give their presentations at the DC Festival this weekend. So, I do not want to spoil it for our friends in the East, except to say that they have left us with powerful terms which should embody the actions of every Eritrean in the coming months: “SheT a’emuro/ ataHasa’sba” (as in sheT meAnTa) and “soft power”. Issayas has managed to make “soft power” a popular term in the Eritrean household. Word is that even grandmothers in the Bay Area are starting to say “soft power”!
All in all, the festival was a great success. Kudos to the organizers who did a great job and I wish our friends in DC the same success.
"The struggle is a long and difficult one.
Therefore, mask no difficulty, tell no lies
and claim no easy victory."
"Telling the truth is always revolutionary."
"One must have the pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will."
"Let me say, at the risk of seeming ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love."
--Ernesto "Che" Guevara
Received on Mon Aug 20 2012 - 00:32:46 EDT