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A-five-day long dual event of the annual Tigray Festival and
37th anniversary of UTNA colorfully celebrated in DC

By Tsehaye Debalkew
August 07 2011

Tigrai Online - Tigrai festival 2011

In what could be dubbed as the most participatory and exceptionally engaging event ever, "Festival Tigray 2011", stud with multi-tailored informative, exhilarating, and fascinating activities, attracting an all time record high number of attendees climaxed by a cultural extravaganza and an extraordinary musical and dance show on Saturday night at the Double Tree Hotel in Crystal City Alexandria Virginia, wound up today.

The Festival which was sponsored and organized by the Union of Tigreans in North America /UTNA/ presented multifarious activities that kicked off with UTNA conference on Wednesday August 3, 2011 and continued until Thursday the following day at the Howard University Black Burn Auditorium.

During the conference the leadership of the organization and members representing branch chapters of the US and Canada congregated and extensively deliberated on the performance of UTNA since the last confab a year ago this time.

The conference charted out and prioritized activities designed to be executed during the upcoming twelve months. The conference especially paid due attention to accelerating projects in the pipe line and implement new projects. The most cardinal issue that the conference participants took note and underlined was the Grand Renaissance Dam that has become the rallying agenda in our country.

In this regard they moved a motion and resolution to the effect that all members of UTNA shall individually and collectively contribute towards the triumph of the gigantic project by directly taking part in the purchase of Bonds and the extension of needed contributions.

They also emphasized for need to coordinate their efforts and directly streamline their activities with the overall drive and initiative of the Ethiopian Embassies in the US and Canada with the view to realize the national dream.

Youth programs which were distinguishing features of the Festival this time around incorporated activities that included, fashion show, Poetry, Drama, music, soccer and basket ball games, other recreational activities and an outing program of picnic in some remote lush area on Sunday in Arlington Virginia and at the premises of the Chancery of the Ethiopian Embassy last Friday night in Washington DC.

Yesterday Saturday August 6, 2011 the menu of the Festival was devoted to a public meeting with invited dignitaries, ie. Ambassador Tewelde Gebru, from Tigray Regional government in Ethiopia, Ambassador Tesfaye Yilma and Ambassador Mulie Tarekegn, from the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC. In the course of the morning session the officials apprised the audience on topical and timely issues.

Ambassador Tewelde briefed the meeting on the existing conducive environment in the country in general with special focus of the auspicious investment climate in Tigray and the inviting conditions set by the regional government to lure the Diaspora to partake in the national development drive.

Ambassador Tesfaye Yilma, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy here, updated the participants about the destabilization effort of the Eritrean regime in the Horn region and the measures taken by IGAD, to dissuade the dubious regime of Asmara to desist from its destructive moves. He also briefed the attendants of the meeting for the push made by the IGAD group of countries for the UN Security Council to take the matter seriously and impose additional sanctions on the rogue regime of Eritrea.

On the other hand Ambassador Mulie Tarekegn, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Ethiopian Embassy in DC took turn and informed the audience about the concerted effort being exerted by the Embassy in Washington DC to continue to rally the Ethiopian Diaspora Society behind the Grand Renaissance Dam and buttress the already galvanized members domiciling in fourteen cities and their vicinities across the US.

Ambassador Mulie made a power-point presentation by demonstrating the multi-functional features of the bond whose purchase shall have a significant leverage by way of benefiting each individual buyer and its impetus by accruing to the national economic gain in the final analysis. The officials at last entertained questions from the audience and gave pertinent answers.

In a related development the Tigray Development Association/TDA/, held its annual confab on Friday August 5, 2011 at the Howard University Black Burn Auditorium. Ambassador Tewelde , Director General of TDA, apprised the participants of the accomplishments of TDA to-date and the challenges that lie ahead.

He presented an appraisal of the accomplishments of TDA in building new schools, amenities, in furnishing schools, libraries and laboratories by enumerating and demonstrating the job done. After a thorough appraisal the members of TDA North America pledged to carry on the task on schedule and introduce yet other new projects in given and identified areas designated by the actual need on the ground.

This year's splendid array of programs saw their acme of crown and excellence when the premiere of the historic film of Major General Hayelom Araya, the startling emblem, National icon and hero of the 17-year armed struggle of the Ethiopian people waged against the Military Dictatorship, sponsored by UTNA was depicted to a packed audience at the town hall of the Ethiopian Embassy last Thursday.

The inaugural film succinctly portrayed the arduous and trying challenges faced during the struggle first of the Tigray people led by the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front and later on by the joint effort of the Ethiopian People spearheaded by the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front /EPRDF/ Forces that assigned the heinous junta into oblivion for eternity.

The documentary cum feature film presented the collective and individual contribution during the anti-Dergue struggle and its outcome in instituting democracy, the rule of law, human rights, justice, periodic election and multi-party system of governance and development encapsulated and enshrined in the Ethiopian constitution ratified by the people for the first time in their millennia -year- old polity.