Historic September

Isaias Afwerki in New York

“…what we met there was beyond our expectations. The area had a convoy of buses and people were lining up to get on them. We were then told that Eritreans from all over America and Canada were traveling to NY city. It was a message to the world that Eritreans were happy to welcome their leaders”

By Samson Negassi
[Edited by YoungPFDJ]

A year ago this month the United Nations 66th general assembly was being held in New York city. In theory the general assembly is the main body that has a power of policy making and it represents all 193 Members. Its supposed to provide a platform for the full range multilateral discussions of the international issues covered by the UN Charter. But practically, the over-60-years-old organization is not as effective as it should be and it is almost exploited and used to cater for the agendas of the US administration. While some countries have become “more important,” many are being completely ignored. Unfortunately the organization does not work for the desperate needs of today’s majority because its badly led, hijacked by a minority and is extremely corrupt.

When the Eritrean Embassy in Washington DC announced that the President of Eritrea and his colleagues were going to attend the 66th UN assembly, Eritreans in the world and particularly those in USA received the News with surprise. Of course it was the first time President Isaias Afwerki attended the UN assembly. But the big News that excited Eritreans and some non-Eritreans was the announcement of a seminar for Sunday, 25th September, 2011. I remember the announcement by the Eritrean embassy in Washington DC was that the President was going to conduct a public seminar for Eritreans living in New York City and its environs. But Eritreans from all over USA and Canada showed up for the seminar.

I happen to be in the DC area at the time and made plans to travel with other friends and attend the highly anticipated event. When the day was approaching, some news outlets and anti Eritrea groups were huffing and puffing on radios and social medias that, the president was going to be met with “severe opposition” and that they were “prepared to disrupt the seminar.” I chuckled after listening to their empty threats because I pitied their delusional behavior. The good cultured and decent people of Eritrea regularly discuss the affairs of their country with their leadership, because the leadership is by the people for the people.

On the night of Saturday, 24 September, 2011 we arrived at the Eritrean Cultural and Civic Centre in Washington DC to catch the previously arranged transportation to New York city. We expected to see maximum of four buses, but what we met there was beyond our expectations. The area had a convoy of buses and people were lining up to get on them. We were then told that Eritreans from all over America and Canada were traveling to NY city. It was a message to the world that Eritreans were happy to welcome their leaders, contrary to the wishes of some media outlets and corrupt groups. The bus ride to New York was full of cheers, laughter and celebration. When we arrived in Manhattan, the atmosphere on 34th street suddenly changed. Eritrean flags were waving everywhere and people were singing and dancing. While people lined up to get into the venue Manhattan Center, tourists and locals around the area wanted to know if a famous artist or a music star was having a concert. The event was witnessed by several thousand attendees on that pleasant Sunday.

Attendees started getting into the venue and the long line on 34th street Manhattan was slowly moving. The singing and dancing continued and Eritreans were showing their delight of just being there. Some traveled for 2 days from Missouri, some for more than 12 hours from Canada; yet they were happy to stand in line and wait for their turn. Some were expressing their delights to news reporters who was there and some had their big cardboard with the messages that welcomed the president.

While thousands were already inside the venue, a police commander from New York Police Department announced to those who were waiting in line to get in that the venue was full and no more attendees will be allowed in. Yet people were still upbeat and waited outside until the end to meet their President. After successful seminar for a few hours, the President walked outside and met those who waited just to get a glimpse of him. It was a worthwhile event that will be engraved in the history books.

That day underlined the unity of Eritreans and that Eritrean leadership is for the people by the people.

God/ Allah Bless Eritrea.
Awet N’Hafash

samson_negassi[at]yahoo.co.uk

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