Washington DC is known for inhabiting one of the most concentrated Ethiopian population in the nation. To top that of, the long awaited annual Ethiopian soccer tournament was held in the nation’s capital attracting thousands more from all over the world. This year’s tournament was not only a yearly soccer game but it was the 25th anniversary for the organization. Thousands of people reached DC at different times. Some flew while others drove. Some arrived for the weekend of June 28th and stayed for a week while others made it for the July 4th weekend. Schedules of social outings, party times and locations and other gatherings were communicated to the greater Ethiopian population via e-mail and word of mouth way in advance of the tournament week.
There were a few concerts at the DC Armory that featured Gossaye, Tilahun Gessesse, Mohamud Ahmed, Mike E (The Ethiopian Born rapper), Lafontens and many others. Parties and shows were happening all over the DC area. All of the artists did an amazing performance. It felt great to hear the vocals of familiar and talented musicians we all grew up listening to. Mohamed did an amazing performance, combining his famous and well known hits with his young and smooth dancing moves. Tilahun moved the crowd while hitting long and high-notes effortlessly. Mike-E inspired the gathered with his conscious poetic message and lyrics. The cultural dancers brought us the flavor of different, beautiful and energetic tribal dances including some kids who humbled our hearts with their sweet melody. Gossaye performed some hits from his latest CD and honored Teddy Afro by performing “Abebayihosh”. As if this was not enough, Lafonten stirred the crowd at DC Armory when singing “Jah Yasteseriyal” by Teddy Afro.
On a general note, the event was successful in attracting thousands of people and hosting vendors with high diversity such as food, spiritual and modern music, construction, money transfer, cultural clothes and articles and much more. While it rained on one of the days, that did not stop the crowd from having a good time. In addition to the soccer games and enjoyable social life, the yearly tournament is known for reuniting long lost friends from back home. This observable fact was evident around the stadium and at social events. It’s an amazing feeling when people run into each other and reminisce about their childhood, elementary or high school years and live the good-old times all over again. It’s even more remarkable to learn about the different walks of lives people chose or were forced to follow to be where they are on that day.
On Friday, July 4th, there were 37,000 tickets purchased for stadium entrance just for that day. When it comes to the fun part, during the day, some people’s routine consisted of leaving their dwellings, eating, walking, shopping, watching the game and any performance. Later in the evening, people would go back to their dwellings to freshen up and then out again to the hottest event, eat, linger outside and then go back to their dwelling. This cycle can take a toll on some people as it certainly did with me and yet we await next year’s event with just as much enthusiasm and excitement. The only regret I have is not being able to bring back injera because of the shortage caused by the high demand. I certainly hope most of you reading this article were fortunate enough to take part in this historic event-if that’s not the case you should definitely try to make to the next one for several reasons. BLESS…