By: Andrew Laurence
Not since the millennium has the Great Ethiopian Expo been celebrated together with the Anniversary of the Ethiopian Yellow Pages and ”Enqutatash” all at once and it was worth the wait. The Washington Capital Hilton was the location of this year’s activities and a great time was had by all.
The Mayor of Washington, DC Vincent Gray and Ward One Councilman Jim Graham got the festivities off to a wonderful start by cutting the opening ceremony ribbon. They noted the many goods and services that the Ethiopian immigrant community provides to the DC area. They also mentioned the extraordinary contributions that Yeshimebet T Belay(Tutu) has provided to the community through the Yellow Pages and service as the chair of the Shaw Business Owners Association.
Business vendors and organizations were lined up throughout the Mezzanine level of the hotel, displaying their products and services for all to see. There were creative toys for children to learn language skills, the first Amharic computer keyboard, clothing designers, book sellers, legal and medical professionals, charitable, religious organizations and much more.
The Young Ethiopian professionals presented a panel discussion on networking among business and community professionals followed by a job fair where employment and volunteer opportunities will be presented by companies and organizations The IR4G Global Runners’ Association launched a new six-month children’s mentoring program to encourage Ethiopian school-aged children in high-risk areas to excel in school through innovative world-class athletics and recreational therapies.
By late afternoon the place was packed with people enjoying the many activities and exhibits including an Ethiopian home called a gojo or tukul that was built and displayed for the event and used to house a traditional coffee ceremony. As the dinner time came, more honored guests arrived with their family in tow. The children wore brightly colored Ethiopian clothes (lebs) while their parents’ dressed in various traditional lebs and beautiful scarves (netela) were a grand sight.
The evening festivities kicked off with awards being presented to Businesses Lenders long time partnership Realtor Hanna Negussie, Law office of Berhan Dargie, and Law Offices of Stein & Rosenbergand & Artist Kelemework Debebe Artist Alemtshay Wodajo and Artist Melaku Gelaw. There was a precious children’s spelling bee with many kids making it all the way through the alphabet (fidel), followed by a gorgeous women’s’ fashion show featuring new modern and traditional designs.
Traditional Ethiopian musical selections were played throughout the night as The Ethiopian Dancers Kegnt Traditional Group entertained everyone with their expert and flamboyant moves. The highlight of the show was a performance by traditional singer Yehunie Belay who thrilled the audience with his energetic performance.
By midnight, it was time to call it a day as children began to fall asleep in their parent’s arms. The entire staff of the Ethiopian Yellow Pages and the stuff should be congratulated for the incredible effort they made to make this event the best yet. I can only imagine what they will come up with for their 20th Anniversary celebration next year.