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By Yohannes Gebresellasie (Ph.D) (8 August 2014)
Festival  Tigray  2014  has   been   celeb rated   by   Tigrians    in  North   Ameria  , Europe, the  Middle  East , Australia  and  other   places  almost  every year;   however,  Festival   Tigray  has never  been  celebrated   in  Tigray  thus  far. This  time  around  however, Festal  Tigray  was  for  the  first  time   celebrated  colorfully  in  Mekelle  the capital city of  Tigray  National   Regional State.  And  what   a wonderful,  monumental, unique and historical festival it became.  For  the  last   thirty  years  or  more,  Festival Tigray  was  particularly celebrated   turn    by  turn in  different  North  American   cities:   in the  USA  and Canada.  During   those colorful celebrations, variety of   acuities were  held:  amongst  those  activities   were  workshops and  seminars relating  to  the   socio-economic  and   political   conditions  and  developmental  endeavors   not   only  within  the  context   of  Tigray  but also the  rest  of  Ethiopia  were   explored, analyzed and  synthesized  by  the  attendants  and  invited  guests  of  the  festival.    Here, renowned  Scholars not only from  Tigray   and  the  rest  of   Ethiopia  but   also  from  other  African countries,  the USA   and  Canada  presented  scholarly  papers  for   discussion   and  for  the  perusal  of policy  makers  back  home.  The festival  also   included   entertainment   activities  accompanied  with   musical extravaganza  presented  by   renowned Tigrian  musical artists such,  as  the  late  kiros  Alemayehu   and   the  late  Iyasu   Berhe and many other new talented musicians as well. Traditional food and   beverages made by local residents were also part   of the festivity.  Further, the   Festival   also   got more color with   the service of traditional food and beverages made by local residents. Traditional dress beautified by   those   beautiful young Tigrians   in the Diaspora   always   attracted more people.  Sport activity and sport competitions were also part of the Tigray festival tradition especially attracting young Tigrian Diasporas.  Circus show was also   presented during the festivity.  Speaking   of  circus,  the  Tigray Circus  Group  was  the   only  African circus group   that  performed at  the  renowned  Kennedy  Center  and  that   spectacular  show  attracted  many   people  of  different  cultural   and national back  grounds.  This  time  around,  Festival Tigray  2014 took place  for  the  first  time  in  Mekelle, Tigray, Ethiopia. The  Tigray National  Regional  State  has   been  ready  and  willing to host the  event after learning  about  the   decisions   taken  for  the  event   to  take  place in Tigray. Soon an International Committee that includes the Addis Ababa committee, the European committee, the Australian committee and the Middle East committee were formed to run the event.  All made a thorough preparation and coordination way in   advance in order to make the festival truly unique, truly historic and   truly   remarkable.  on arrival  on  the  31st of July 2014  of  the Tigrian Diasporas, a warm   reception  was  made  at   the  Addis  Ababa   International  Airport   and  especially at  the  Mekelle   Alula   Aba  Nega International Air  Port. High  level  officials  from the  Tigray National Regional State inculcating  the  President  of the  Region  received the Tigrian   Diasporas  and  the   Ethiopian  Ambassadors  who  coincidently   had  to conduct their meeting in Mekelle. Their presence also added more flavor and more color to the festival. The Regional   police music band delighted   the   Diasporas and the Ambassadors with their beautiful musical performances. Then the guests were accompanied to the Grand Martyr’s Monument for a welcoming reception.  There, the President of the Region made a spectacular speech to the standing ovation of the audiences. Variety of musical performances, dramas, poems, and a spectacular circus show were performed at the Grand Hall. Following those performances, a grand cocktail reception accompanied by yet more musical shows delighted the Diaspora guests and the public at large on open space within the Martyr’s compound.  The day after, variety of event were held according   to the program; the most important of which were the Regional Bureaus’ presentations on: Education, Health, Good Governance, and, the Role of Diasporas, the Role of Woman, the role of Tigrian Intellectuals and more. Here it is important to note that all discussions were open   and transparent.  Gaps and challenges were explored and options and solution were forwarded.  Tigrian Diasporas also had their respective forums on those and other  relevant issues. Union of Tigrians in North America (UTNA), The Tigray Development Association (TDA) also presented their respective Association’s performances over the years.  By the  way, UTNA  celebrated   its   40th  Anniversary  while  TDA   celebrated  it’s  25th  anniversary  colorfully  in other  own  city  Mekelle  to the  a great  pleasure  of  all.  In addition, the Youth   Association and Women’s Association also had their own  meetings.    Tigrian Diasporas also   paid   visits to many development firms such as the Mesfen Industrial Engineering, The Mosobo cement factory and the next day a visit to the Tekeze hydroelectric power and to Hagere Selam among others. On  the  Educational  sector,  it  was  the Nichoalas  Elementary  and   High School that  attracted  the  Tigrran  Diasporas . Nicholas school is owned by TDVA.  Majority of the school children over 75% are children of the Disabled Veterans; therefore, the school carries a special significance to everyone alike. The school is equipped with modern teaching, library and laboratory equipments. Yearly, 100% of those who   took   exams pass; therefore, the school has an impeccable reputation in terms of its high quality of education and high quality ethical standards.  Here,  it  is  worth  while  mentioning  two British Humanitarians: Max  and  Katherine  who  with TDVA established this wonderful and exemplary school that is helping many otherwise could not have had the opportunity to get into a quality school such as the mentioned one. The school is named after their child Nicholas who unfortunately died due to accident at a very young age. Festival Tigray brought thousands of Tigrians back to Tigray. This kind of Diaspora festival is the first of its kind in Ethiopia. The festival encompassed and explored varieties of issues such as those mentioned above that carry Regional and National values. Therefore Festival Tigray is more than a festival. It enhances people to people connection and cooperation in a variety of developmental activities. Further, it is a catalyst to creating employment and investment; it promotes not only the Region’s but indeed the Nation’s good image to the rest of the world. Therefore, this kind of initiative must be encouraged and must be made to continue not only in Tigray Region but also within the rest of the regions of our nation as well.  It is a noble and excellent initiative that must be replicated by all Regions of our nation.  Finally, awards and certificates were given to those who made valuable contribution to make the festival a success. The festival ended with a spectacular musical and dramatic extravaganza throughout the night to the delight of all.