EriAm Sisters and DC Eritrean Festival 2009


Amanuel Biedemariam

Eritrean festivals are fun, meaningful, informative, and consistent. Every year they add new meaning to an already rich tradition and history that started during the struggle for the liberation of Eritrea.

And after decades of organizing these festivities, it has become second nature to Eritreans that they conduct them flawlessly and without a hitch year after year. Eritreans never take it for granted. On the contrary, they upgrade the events by going to better and bigger venues to meet growing demand and adding more informative and entertaining programs. That is the hallmark of Eritreans worldwide, uncommon to other African communities.

That primarily results from leadership that fully understands the value of unity and nurtures it to reach its highest potential to benefit Eritrea. Eritreans in the Diaspora deserve credit for promoting it year after year, fully understanding its ramifications, and ensuring perpetuity.

Anyone who wants to write about these events can find many layers of rich storylines to choose from. These stories reflect Eritrean lives based on a journey graced by courage, bravery, wit, resilience, and the will to continually strive for a dream based on unity and desire to better Eritrean standard living tirelessly no matter the hurdles and regardless of the price. That spirit carries Eritreans through, no matter the obstacle or the challenge, sometimes making it feel like walking on water.

The story of Eritrea is a secret that many are beginning to discover for different reasons. I was lucky to entertain African guests at the Eritrean Festival in DC this year. They were enamored with the whole process, amazed by the organization, and astounded by the participants’ zeal – particularly the youth.

After the question and answer session with Mr. Saleh Meki, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, the youth took over. First, they conducted a fashion show, timed perfectly, and choreographed well with Eritrean music in the background. And as soon as that ended, Eritrean kids instantly swarmed the dance floor, hungry to see and hear what they waited for a long time.

Suddenly, the stage got dark, and it was taken over by three beautiful young girls with sultry and sweet voices. The screams by the adoring young fans were so loud that it felt like we were someplace other than an Eritrean festival. The EriAm Sisters, who had come from Seattle, have effectively controlled the stage moving from side to side singing songs the kids loved and sung along. The hands of these loving fun stretched to reach out and get the attention of the singing sensations. The place was electrified and controlled by a professional solid singing trio home to give love back to their own. The EriAm sisters were showing love to kids their age, sharing the same life experiences, aspirations, and similar community circles. 

The EriAm Sisters are talented, beautiful singing with a natural stage command. It is easy to notice how comfortable they are on stage. They understood their audience and gave them exactly what they longed for. It was a demographic match made in heaven. The EriAm Sisters are singing sensation who understand their loyal fun-base well and gave them what they wanted by singing a variety that worked well. And the audience has a stake in the success of EriAm Sister because they are indirectly representing them. That is an unshakeable bond cemented by the love of each other and Eritrea.

The EriAm Sisters were graceful, natural, and full of energy on stage. And to add flavor to a colorful night, the EriAm Sister sang a classic Tigrigna song called Ab Tsem Tsem Berekha ኣብ ፀም ፀም በረኻ, a remake of the renowned Eritrean Singer Haile Ghebru.

The audience was captivated, on their feet, taken by emotional flashbacks, and surprised by kids full of pleasant range and reach. Better yet, Haile Ghebru jumped on stage to accompany them while they sang his song. It was an electrifying occasion. What stood out was the grace and the affection shown by the EriAm Sisters to Haile Ghebru as they sang together. The EriAm Sisters knew what the song meant because that is likely a song their parents grew up listening.

What the EriAm Sisters are is a reflection of their parents. And the parents are a reflection and part of the Eritrean community they came to entertain. They deserve kudos for their hard work to fulfill their kids’ dreams. They deserve praise for maintaining a vision of a united Eritrean community, sharing their success, and adding flavor to an already colorful event that included Eritrean star singers like Bekita Ali, the legendary Bereket Mengisteab, and Tesfalem Arefaine (aka Korchach). They deserve to be appreciated for proudly setting the example of success grounded on one’s community! Since there are undoubtedly many families who take the EriAm sisters as role models as they strive to achieve similar successes.

Eritrea is assured success by her resilient communities worldwide who dream together to achieve a peaceful and prosperous Eritrea. They understand what it will take to carry Eritrea to the next stage. Therefore, they have made an unspoken commitment to carry on the torch of their fallen heroes in this manner. This is what makes Eritrea resilient, a fact many fail to grasp and keep underestimating Eritrea, not knowing Eritrean will succeed.

To make a bold statement, Eritrea is the mission, purpose, and way of life for most Eritreans. That is what blossoms every year. Eritreans are engaged in various tasks under that umbrella to promote additional programs. Some focus on programs that attempt to meet Eritrea’s medical needs by supporting Physicians for Peace, education, EAAA sports, and so on. In addition, it is rewarding to witness the youth actively engaged and taking over most of these campaigns enthusiastically.

What the EriAm sisters did was cement this continuity at a higher level. They inspired young Eritreans and made sure the young looked forward to the bigger and better gathering. This is yet the best example of a thriving community that is determined to grow while ensuring Eritrea’s needs are being met.

Many thanks to the parents of the EriAm Sisters, Mr. Mulugetta and Mrs. Tiblets Abraha, for doing it the right way!



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