San Jose hosts Ethio-Eritrean friendship dinner – By Abebe Gellaw
The effort to mend fences between Ethiopians and Eritreans was boosted with a spectacular Ethiopian and Eritrean friendship and cultural event, which was attended by over one hundred people from both communities in San Jose, California.
The October 2 fundraising dinner, which was organized by the San Jose-based Ethiopian & Eritrean Friendship Forum (EEFF), was described as a landmark in the process of building people-to-people bridges between the two communities that have been seriously damaged by decades of treacherous history of conflict and bloodshed.
Chairman of EEFF, Dr. Worku Negash noted that many people are now realizing the fact that the strong bond between Ethiopians and Eritreans need to be repaired so that the wounds of the past would not hinder efforts to establish a long lasting harmonious relationship. He told Addis Voice that the coming generation should only be bequeathed peaceful and normalized relationships in stead of animosity and bitterness. He commended Ethiopian and Eritrean students in many American and European universities that have set up joint student unions in order to have a collective voice and representation.
Dr. Worku pointed out that the event was organized to raise funds for the forthcoming Ethiopian and Eritrean Friendship Conference, slated for March 2011 in San Jose. “Our aim for the conference is not different from the objective of EEFF, which is to create an enabling environment for ordinary Ethiopians and Eritreans to forge honest people-to-people dialog based on mutual trust and respect with a view to healing festering wounds and facilitating harmonious relationships,” he said.
Representing the Eritrean community, organizing committee member, Mr. Berhane Ghebre Negus, spoke in Tigrigna reflecting a similar sentiment expressed by the chairman.
Popular singer Shanbel Belayneh and Eritrean DJ and committee member Yakob Wolde also gave the event a special flavor with their vibrant cultural music while Dr. Fikre Tolosa read a sentimental poem expressing his views on the enduring bond that exists between Eritreans and Ethiopians.
The event, which was held at Masonic Center hall that was uniquely decorated for the occasion, was opened and concluded with prayers. Elders from both communities expressed their joy to see the two communities come together to make sincere efforts to live in harmony and peace. Cultural songs from both communities spurred the attendees to spring up out of their seats and dance together in a spirit that was a true reflection of the event’s mission.
EEFF is a continuation of an initiative by San Jose residents under the Ethiopian and Eritrean Committee (EEC) which organized two conferences in the city aimed at facilitating honest dialogue and normalize relations at community levels.
Abebe Gelagay, one of the founding members of EEC gave a passionate speech relating his personal life experience and his vision for the future of the two communities. During the course of the event, there appeared to be an unspoken consensus among organizers and attendees that feasting and dancing together bodes well for the future of the two communities and the efforts to mend broken fences and bridges in that have been damaged due to their tumultuous history of tragic conflicts.