The Ethiopian Heritage Society of North America (EHSNA) held its First Annual Ethiopian Heritage Festival “Celebrate and Discover Ethiopia.” at Georgetown University starting the evening of Friday July 1, 2011 at the Lucille M. Spagnuolo Gallery. The first day was attended by hundreds of Ethiopians representing the young and elderly, including this year’s Guest of Honor, Judge Birtukan Midekssa.
Two young emerging artists, Mekibib Gebertsadik and Meseret Desta displayed their vibrant and colorful art work on the opening day. There was an exhibition of old coins, a stamp collection, and a pictorial presentation of Arbegnias put together by the youngest Board Member of EHSNA, Leul Dawit. In addition, various poets presented their works, the highly charismatic former secretary of the International Olympic Committee Secretariat, Ato Fikru Kidane, the author of Piazza Lij talked about his book and urban life in Addis Ababa in the early 50 and 60‘s. Throughout the evening young and old poets were awakening the spirit of Ethiopia and Ethiopiawinet.
The following two days the Festival moved to the Multi Purpose Sport Center in Georgetown University. The stadium was shimmering with the green, yellow, and red flag. Ethiopian Heritage Society banners were all around. There were soccer games throughout the day, both male and female track & field runs, adult and children tug of war competitions, and young children’s sack races going on the field all day long.
Music and dancing were also part of the celebration with a major cultural troupe of 15 artists entertaining the crowd with traditional and cultural diverse Ethiopian songs. The young Abyssinian Band also preformed their mix of acrobatic rock and roll and Ethiopian traditional dances.
Sunday was the crescendo of the whole weekend – The morning started with a Women’s Breakfast get together at the Key Bridge Marriott with Judge Birtukan which was attended by various active women from the DC area and around the country. In the early afternoon, the Final Soccer game was won by the Abyssinia Atlanta Soccer team. Judge Birtukan Midekssa, Chris Flaherty, Kebadu Belachew, and Taffese Habtewold were honored and recognized by EHSNA. Moving and inspiring speeches were given by Chris Flaherty and by the 12 year old son of Ato Kebadu. As Judge Birtukan accepted her award and began to speak, strong winds and rain came pouring down, it seemed like the heavens were opened and the event was interrupted. After the heavy rain, the crowd would not budge as newer folks kept coming to the stadium; the universal feeling by the organizers and the people was the show must go on. Judge Birtukan came back to the event from her hotel and gave an arousing, touching, inspiring, and heartfelt speech, thanking all for standing with her in her time of tribulation. The Judge went on to remind all that we should celebrate our past and unite to be the change that we all want to see at the present time. She spoke of hope and a dream to see a great Ethiopia where peace and justice exists for all. The evening culminated with more music by musicians such as Berhanu Tezera (La Fonten), Abeba and Abegaz entertaining the crowd.
All in all, EHSNA’s Festival was a great weekend where Ethiopians from all over the USA and Canada came together to celebrate and honor Ethiopia. Friends and acquaintances mingled, the young and old shared the spirit of Ethiopia and Ethiopiawinet. Young children playing together in the Children Amba, making flags and necklaces, and sharing and helping one another was wonderful to see. Furthermore, the high participation of Ethiopian adopted children and their American parents, gave all hope that we are all in this together.
The Ethiopian Heritage Society would like to express its sincere gratitude to all who participated and supported the effort to make the Festival a very successful event. The organizing committee hopes the Festival was enjoyed by the thousands of Ethiopians who attended. As an organization, we would like to use this opportunity to thank all who volunteered, sponsored, media outlets, and all individuals and entities that helped to make the first annual Festival a complete triumph. EHSNA is confident that its upcoming events and festival will be even bigger, more successful, and more enjoyable for everyone. The support from the public and the success of the Festival has motivated, inspired, and encouraged the Board members of EHSNA to strive in preserving and promoting Ethiopian heritage in North America and beyond.
For more information please visit our website www.ethiopianheritagesociety.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ethiopian Heritage Festival Organizing Committee
Ethiopian Heritage Society (EHSNA)