Thursday , August 16 2018
Home / Articles / Personal Observation of the Denver and Atlanta Festival 2018

Personal Observation of the Denver and Atlanta Festival 2018

That both festivals – the first of their kind – had taken place in 2018 was no small feat. For these festivals to take place in the heels of the major peace event between Eritrea and Ethiopia, however, is a stroke of luck for the public to push both the opposition political blocks and the civil societies to rise to the occasion and deliver the goods. The public was in no mood for politics as usual. They want to see action. They want to see a strategic plan with a blueprint to boot. As sheer coincidences would have it eight Eritrean intellectuals were there to offer some such blueprint for the taking – No condition. No interest in assuming power. Willing to incorporate any other ideas to make the document, not only as robust as possible, but also one where this roadmap would become a rallying cry for the mass movement that Eritreans are ready and willing to support.

Simply put, these eight individuals are a think-tank in the making who devoted their time, energy, and knowledge so that the majority of Eritreans can work under some common principles to achieve the direly needed change. Imagine this: At least half of the eight individuals did not know each other. The Eritrean spirit compelled them to convene in order to present something tangible for the greater good at the Denver Festival last July and this past weekend at the Atlanta Festival. Once each individual came to participate with that spirit, leaving their personal political leanings in the backburner, suspicion, mistrust, and second guessing went out the door. This observational piece will mainly focus on the produced blueprint, which is now available in three languages, namely Tigrinya, Arabic, and English. Using Denver and Atlanta as sites of contention, “a discursive space”, if you will, will provide a portrait of the dialogue that ensued.

A Discursive Space

A discursive space in the context of the subject at hand is premised on the notions of sociocultural and linguistic theory that homes-in on recurring episodes. The face-to-face engagement calls attention to these recurring themes and tries to highlight the direction of the discourse through thematic episodes. In the case of the Denver and Atlanta festivals, a sociopolitical space can be incorporated in addition to the sociocultural and linguistic theory, and the use of the blue-print document is one episodic example that will have a social, cultural, and political subtext to the mass movement where the public is driving the discourse. The civil societies and political opposition groups can become the conduit via which these people-centered mass movements are made realizable.

Engaged Public is Empowered Public

What was fascinating to this observer is the fact that the audience was not only assertive but unwilling to settle for business-as-usual or to the reversion of the status quo ante, if you will. Hence, discussions were tense, where the organized groups wishing to operate as they have been for the past 18 years while the audience wanted the organized groups to adapt the road map. The triangulation of the discourse appears to rest at the seams, where the empowered public demanded, in the case of the Atlanta festival, that two representatives of the blue-print were given extra time to answer some more questions, elaborate further on the road map. This was one shining example in what could happen when the public is empowered and engaged. This was the kind of dynamic discourse that the Atlanta festival proffered. The kind that could conceivably work in offering an integrative and principled strategies of resistance that majority of Eritreans can use as a launching pad to elevate the discourse and achieve the needed change through social and political justice. The fluidity and the breathtaking speed by which the peace process between Eritrea and Ethiopia that the Eritrean public was made to observe has created this unprecedented empowering public discussion of counterpoise, counteract, pivot, and paradigmatic change of a perspective that the civil societies and the political opposition groups appear to have not been ready to embrace. This is the reason why the blue-print (the road map) had gotten the kind of enthusiastic attention that it did.

The Blue Print and/or the Road Map

One of the key elements to staying relevant in civil and political discourse rests in the ability of those who are engaged in it to be keenly aware where the mood of the public is when major events of monumental import take place. Once aware the leaders cannot remain behind the public and expect to lead from behind. They must quickly adjust not only their tone and rhetoric but also come up with a road map that clearly shows they can lead from the front. What the eight Eritreans offered was nothing short of that. For the most part, the document they produced is the UN’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As Dr. Selah Nur and Mr. Sengal Woldetensae explicated in the Atlanta Festival is that they customized it to fit the Eritrean context by adding five principles, so it can be used by any Eritrean activists who wish to advance the cause of social and political justice.

The other critical element to these eight individuals worth mentioning here is that they have no interest in assuming political or civil leadership based on the road map. In fact, they have varying interest in political organizations, in civil societies, in many other community related activities. What brought them together is the shared interest they have for Eritrea, the country, and for the good will toward the Eritrean people who continue to see an unprecedented suffering. These are accomplished individuals in their field of endeavor. They don’t need Eritrea to survive. Eritrea, however, needs exemplary Eritrean professionals like these eight individuals who put the interest of Eritrea and its people ahead of theirs.

Granted, many other skilled Eritreans will find some points to add here and points that can be rephrased, points to be molded, adjusted, amended, what have you? And that’s precisely why I am choosing to share the English version of the document attached herewith to awate readers. The Tigrinya and Arabic translations will follow in due course, of course. Attending the Atlanta Festival, the weekend of August 3-5 gave me optimism, albeit guarded one, that finally Eritreans are overcoming their suspicions of one another’s motives; the festival has had characteristics that any discursive space would have, namely elements of resistance, frustrations, heated arguments, layered and nuanced at times; in blunt language at other times. In the end, however, what prevailed was what an engaged public wanted.  In my estimate, the latter was exactly what occurred in Atlanta as a spectacle of contention. Sites of contention tend to be the source of where a new way of looking at issues begin to emerge, and emerging they have. What needs to happen now is for these eight individuals to expand their work with an eye toward Europe, another site of contention, a site of the demonstration in Geneva slated to take place at the end of this month.

From a discursive space standpoint, certainly, the Atlanta festival is an extension of the Denver festival. The Europe festival can now become an extension of these two festivals combined with the blue print or the road map as its episodic event that ties them all to become one robust Eritrean mass movement that will ostensibly reverberate in the homeland.

P.S. As an outsider looking in, there was one powerful subtext from the audience that I am compelled to mention that pushed the conversation onward to a positive territory. Of course, I am cognizant of the fact that a discourse of the sort I described above materializes because of give and take from all involved, but there was one constant theme, one who was an intensely focused individual who pushed the discourse forward, namely Kibrom “Santim”. My hats off to him irrespective of his aggressive approach, he was not only on point on all the interventions he made in the middle of the conversation but was also forward looking. This is my small way of saying may the likes of Kibrom speak more and more in some such public arenas. And, through it all, I didn’t utter a word in that public space. I was just taking it all in. Hopefully, would make it up for my staying mum.

About Beyan Negash

Activist, a writer and I am a doctoral candidate (ABD) in Language, Literacy, and Culture at New Mexico State University (NMSU). I hold a bachelor of arts in English and a master of arts in TESOL from NMSU as well as a bachelor of arts in Anthropology from UCLA. My research interests are on colonial discourse and post-colonial theories and their hegemonic impact on patriarchy, cultural identity, literacy development, language acquisition as well as curriculum & citizenship. The geopolitics of the Horn of Africa interests me greatly. My writings tend to focus on Eritrea and Ethiopia. I have been writing opinion pieces at awate.com since its inception (1 September 2001).

Check Also

Somali Region of Ethiopia: Pm Abiy Must Address the Culture of Impunity

We apologize for any inconvenience. The post was taken off because we do not host …

  • Beyan

    ዝሕለፉ መድረካትንክውቓዕ ዝደለ ሸቶታት: GOALS TO BE ACHEIVED

    ቀዳማይ መድረኽ: PHASE I: ቃልሲ: ንምምጻእ ኣወንታዊ ለውጢ:

    1. ሃገራዊ ስኒት: – ንህዝባዊ ሓድነት:Generate National Harmony- for Peoples’ Unity

    2. ምምርግጋጽ: – ለውጢ ዝጠልቦ “ንቅሓትን ውዳበን”:Guarantee the required “consciousness & organization” for change.

    3. ምስዓር: ምልካዊ/ዲክታተርያዊ ስርዓት: Obliterate the “Dictatorial System”.

    ካልኣይ መድረኽ: PHASE II: እዋን መሰጋገሪ መድረኽ:

    4.ምጽዳቅ: – “ንመሰጋጋሪ መንግስቲ ዝገዝእ ሃገራዊ ቻርተር ወይ ሕጊ”: Ratify an Interim-Constitution- for the transitional period.

    5. ምቛም: – ሱታፌ ኩሉ ዘረጋግጽ መሰጋገሪ መንግስቲ:

    6. ምኽያድ: “መሰረታዊ ዳግመ-ስርርዕ (fundamental change): ኣብ ምኽልካል ሰራዊት

    Fundamental restructuring on “EDF & the Security Apparatus”.

    7.ምጽዳቅ: ንህዝባውን ዲሞክራሲያውን ስርዓት ንምምስራት ዘገልግል “ቅዋም”: Ratify a Constitution for the establishment of a “Democratic System”

    8. ምርግጋጽ: – ነጻን ርትዓውን ምርጫ:: Ensure free & fair election.

    ሳልሳይ መድረኽ: PHASE III: ኣብ ምምስራት: ቅዋማዊ ህዝባዊን ዲሞክራሲያዊን ስርዓት

    9. ምምስራት: – ህዝባውን ቅዋማውን መንግስቲ: Establish “Constitutional Government”.

    10. ምርግጋጽ: ቀጻሊ ቁጠባዊ ዕብየትን ሰብኣዊን ልምዓት:Enhance sustainable “Economic & Human Development”

    11. ምርግጋጽ: ማዕርነት ህዝቢ Enhance equality

    12. ምርግጋጽ: – ቁጠባውን ማሕበራውን ፍትሒ: Foster Economic & Social Justice

    13. ምርግጋጽ:ቀጻልነቱውሑስዝኮነኣከባብያዊምሕደራ: Sustainable Eco-system Management.

    Establish All-inclusive “Transitional Government”: ኤርትራን: ትካላት ስለያን ቅንጸላን:

    • abdulworld

      Hello Beyan,
      That is good road-map are they modeling this after any particular country or countries… and each phase builds on the previous one. So, if each is not done well..
      There is so much case study around Africa and Asia and even Latin America we can learn from…
      I guess is WHAT needs to be done maybe HOW will be the interesting part..

  • Beyan

    Selam Awatawyan,

    Here is the first of the two documents that should’ve accompanied the article. Many thanks Amanuel for noticing that it was missing. Herein follows the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with five additional rights that are uniquely applicable to Eritrea’s case.

    Snitt Festival Eritrea Denver, Colorado, USA 04-08 July 2018

    Amended to Reflect the Eritrean Reality (Article 31-34),
    Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    Preamble

    Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people, Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law, Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations, Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in cooperation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms, Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge, Now, therefore, The General Assembly, Proclaims this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

    Article I

    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

    Article 2

    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

    Article 3

    Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

    Article 4

    No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

    Article 5

    No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

    Article 6

    Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

    Article 7

    All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

    Article 8

    Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

    Article 9

    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

    Article 10

    Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

    Article 11

    1. Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense. 2. No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

    Article 12

    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

    Article 13

    1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.

    2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. 3. Eritrean refugees have the right to be repatriated to their home country on their free will.

    Article 14

    1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

    2. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

    Article 15

    1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.

    2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

    Article 16

    1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

    2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

    3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

    Article 17

    1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. 2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

    3. Land ownership should reside in the Eritrean Traditional Village and every Eritrean has the right to own land.

    Article 18

    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

    Article 19

    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    Article 20

    1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. 2. No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

    Article 21

    1. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

    2. Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country.

    3. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

    Article 22

    Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

    Article 23

    1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

    2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

    3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

    4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

    Article 24

    Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

    Article 25

    1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

    2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

    Article 26

    1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. There need to be institutions which specialize in Leadership Development.

    2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

    3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

    Article 27

    1. Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

    2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

    Article 28

    Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

    Article 29

    1. Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.

    2. In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.

    3. These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

    Article 30

    Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

    Article 31

    Every Eritrean shall accept, the absence of “justice” in all its forms (political, social, economic, administrative, etc.) as the sole fundamental cause for the “problems” of Eritrea. Hence, every Eritrean should concur with the fact that the fundamental solution to the Eritrean ills is to make “Justice” reign over Eritrea.

    Article 32

    Every Eritrean (person or organization) should have respect for, uphold and be governed by the “Rule of Law”.

    Article 33

    (1) Every Eritrean should “believe in” and “have respect for” the plurality of the Eritrean people. (2) The government shall not engage itself in the development of forms or measurement standards that delimit the question of identity (ethnicity, clan, nationalities, province, etc.) of an Eritrean individual or group.

    Article 34

    Every Eritrean entity (individual or organized group) should commit itself to the act of alienation of control over the outcome of the struggle for democratic change in Eritrea.

    Article 35

    Every Eritrean entity (individual or organized group) shall accept and respect all Eritrean languages as “National Languages”. Until the Eritrean people makes the determination in the case through a proper constitution making, every Eritrean shall accept Tigrigna and Arabic as “Working Languages”.

    THE END

  • Beyan
  • Amanuel

    Dear Beyan
    Thanks for sharing your the festivals experience. However, I could find shared or attached document. Could you please help.
    Kind regards
    Amanuel

    • Beyan

      Selam Amanuel Hidrat,

      You’re absolutely right! Two things that I normally do and ask before having an article published were skipped in this one – My MOs, as it were, were skipped. I just read the article to make sure what else might I be missing since what you mentioned was a behemoth one, sure enough there is another one that I inadvertently neglected to include. (1). So, I thought I had the two documents hyperlinked, obviously, I didn’t. Knowing Awate’s MO, i.e., we can’t share any links over weekdays, I will wait until tomorrow to share the two documents in which I base my piece. (2). Along the way, I also inadvertently forgot to include my source. The quote of “a discursive space” and its attendant concepts I appropriated to apply it in the space of civil and political discourse emanates from “Elusive Culture…” by Daniel A. Yon (2000). This qualitative study was conducted in a metropolitan Canadian city, where a school of adolescent boys and girls was used “a discursive space” and through that space the study shows how their identities are developed; the role these children play in its formation and the role their multicultural settings in return plays in that process was a fascinating read. So, haste does really make waste as the saying goes.

      Many thanks for alerting me, Aman. It just now dawned on me that you’ve changed your profile picture. If it is the same Aman, I have your e-mail, I will send you the attachments for now. For the rest, I will share it over the weekend.

      Sincerely,
      Beyan

      • Amanuel Hidrat

        Selam Beyan,

        The comment is not mine. It is commented by another active Awitista, happened to have the same name. Just to identify us, I use my full name,

      • Amanuel

        Hi Bryan
        Thanks for the extended and detailed reply.
        Sorry for the confusion over the name,
        Kind regards
        Amanuel

    • Beyan

      Selamat Amanuel,

      Not at all. It’s me who haphazardly reads comments that I mismatch those who similar names. Glad you and Aman H. clarified it, Here we are now, it is weekend, thusly, I will post all of the documents that the group has produced a little later.

      Sincerely,
      Beyan

  • Haile S.

    Thank you Beyan,
    Selam all,

    ቁራስ ፈስቲቫል ፍትሒ ደለይቲ
    በያን ሒዙ መጸ ጥዑም መኽፈልቲ
    ዘይኮነ ዘይብሉ፡ ጨው ኮነ ዘይቲ
    ናይ ሎሚ’ስ ድፎ-ዳቦ ይመስል ሕብስቲ
    ዝተዳለወ ብወሓላሉ ሰብኡት ምስ ኣንስቲ
    መእተዊ ዝኸውን ነቲ ዝተሓብአ ኣብ ድስቲ
    ኣብ ሓዊ ኣጽንሕዎ ካይዝሕል ክሳብ ለውጢ
    ከፊትኩም ኣይተግደፍዎ ከይከውን መሕለፊ ክረምቲ
    ዓጺኹም ኣይተግደፍዎ ከይቅርዕን ከይበታተኽ ኣትክልቲ
    ኣኹስ ድ’ኣ ኣብልዎ ኣብ ሰሙን ኣብ ሳልስቲ
    ኣጥዕም ክኣ ኣብልዎም ነሕዋትኩም ፍሉጣት ከሸንቲ

    • Beyan

      Selam Haile S.,

      Indeed, the virtual festival at awate was graced by several favorite writers as well. These virtual chefs, if I may borrow your metaphor, have elevated the discussion to the next level. Before I zoned out of awate, I had seen Yohannes Zerai’s article to which I had so much to say. Needless to say, I wasn’t able too. As if that wasn’t enough, I kept on seeing Haile The Great (aka, Haile TG) appears to be back. I now have to go back all the way and read his input. Hope he stays on board for a while as the ever engaging Sal Y. will need quick thinkers like him. Welcome back Haile TG. And then comes Ismail Omer Ali charging with his article. Good to see you back, bro. Keeping up with the comments has become one monumental challenge because there are so many critical thinkers these days who have such vast knowledge and one would hate to miss their input. But, it is really hard not to, unfortunately. I mean reading comments alone, there is infinite knowledge to be had. All I can say is thank you awate for this kind of a forum where ideas are cherished irrespective of their weight. Everyone has equal chance to express his/her opinion so long they follow the guidelines, which asks nothing more than to be decent and respectful toward those one decides to engage with. Period.

      Again, many thanks for your quick Tigrinya quips, Haile S.

      Beyan

  • Brhan

    Thank you Dr. Beyan for sharing you experience of the festivals,

    Let me also share with you with a festival conducted north of your border.

    I attended a half day workshop that was facilitated by Toronto Justice Seekers as part of the 2nd Eritrean festival in Canada*. The theme of the workshop was simply put as ” what is your reaction to the new political development between Eritrea and Ethiopia and to the issues that come with it such as air plane flights, ports, investment.

    Around 100 participants (this is the biggest number in my experience in attending workshops) were divided into groups to discuss on the issue and here are the points where the majority agreed:

    1. the rapprochement is between Isayas and Abiy regimes: both are using it to preserve their powers
    2. Eritreans were not consulted about the rapprochement
    3. + (መደመር)of Abiy is not only disliked but also rejected
    4. # 3 also reflects አንድነት
    5. The border issue was a precondition for the regime to base its stand for the past 17 years and within a few weeks it made a U turn to abandon it talk to the regime in Ethiopia which sees the issue is minor issue. It is time to rally Eritreans , including PF(JD) sympathizers because the country’s sovereignty is at stake
    6. Who benefits more from the flights and talks about investment? Ethiopians: look to their private sector and compare it with the Eritrean, where it has been smashed by the regime for many years
    7. The end of No war no peace is good for nothing if it doesn’t result with concrete positive steps such the official declaration from the regime to end its slave like unlimited national service that is shocking the international community
    8. Thousands of our political prisoners are still in jail. So why we are excited by the Fireworks of Awasa
    9. We do not have a Constitution.
    10. Thus A Aluta Continua Salam

    * the festival also hosted the legendary singer Abrar Osman.

    • Beyan

      Selam Brhan,

      I appreciate you sharing the way the workshop format that our Canadian Eritreans had used to engage the public. In fact, the Atlanta approach was host and guest centered, which turned out to be its major weakness. The format left no wiggling room for inclusion of the audiences’ input. The audiences wanted to be engaged, there was less of Q&As or room for commentaries. Friday and Saturday were packed with topics were as varying in theme as in the number of subjects they tried to address making it rather difficult to give a chance for the audience to discuss and and ask questions. Individuals from audience, like Kibrom (“Santim”) had to literally interrupt to get their voices be heard. Few times, he saved the hosts from what could’ve turned out to be an embarrassing moment.

      I like the way you succinctly highlighted where the mood of the public clearly rested, vis-a-vis Ethio-Eri peace initiative. Now I see where Abrar Osman was, eh. In the music arena, too, there was one great line up of great artists like weddi Tikabo, but the sound system made his songs sound like it was Tigrinya version of a “heavy-metal”- it was that bad. The sound was not only loud, but screeching and really irritating to the ears. You know how soothing Weddi Tikabo’s songs are. The ever energetic Ghirmai Andom was there. In fact, if and when assenna releases those audio clips, Ghirmai’s speech at the festival was one worth writing an article as a portrait of politics and art. about. His political stance he sees as inseparable from his artistic endeavors. He was critical of Eritreans in that how we see our artists as nothing more than just entertainers. He was on point, and forcefully, at that. BeTel from Canada with his distinct guitar sound was there where his songs in Sudanese and Tigrayit were mangled by the sound system as well. But, both nights, people seemed to not be perturbed. They danced the night away. Personally, I could only handle it the first night. The second night, had to bail out earlier.

      Cheers,
      Beyan