By THEODROS YESHIAREGA, Correspondent JUNE 29, 2015
STOCKHOLM — The annual Ethiopian Festival in Sweden came to conclusion on Saturday evening in the presence of hundreds of expat Ethiopians. The event, organized by the Ethio-Sweden Sport & Cultural Federation, kicked-off Friday at Hallunda Sports Field on the outskirts of Stockholm.
The two-day festival featured soccer, athletics, music, cultural performances and other recreational activities, entertaining the Ethiopian diaspora and their friends of other nationalities in the city.
“The festival’s aim is to bring the Ethiopian community closer, as well showcase Ethiopian culture, food, dance and music to the locals,” said Samson Solomon, Chairperson of the Federation.
Ethiopians residing in Stockholm were selling traditional food, souvenirs and other materials at a few stalls erected around the sports field.
The turnout wasn’t as large as the number of Ethiopian immigrants residing in Sweden. The chairperson told Gizeyat this was because some of the spectators went to another religious event that took place on the same day.
“Besides, the event used to take place in August,” said Solomon, “But is now shifted back to June in order to send the winning soccer team to play in the annual Ethiopian championship games of Europe, to be held in Frankfurt-Germany this mid-July”.
The festival ended with a soccer game finale with Alby Park team defeating Walya 6-5 in penalty shootout. The winning team, which qualifies for the Ethiopian continental games, received a trophy and a gold medal. The 2nd and 3rd runners-up were awarded silver and bronze medals, respectively.
The Ethio-Sweden Sport & Cultural Federation was founded in 1999 by a few sport interested Ethiopians. They later on inspired Ethiopian communities in other European countries to create their own respective federations. These federations eventually founded the continental Ethiopian Sport & Cultural Federation in Europe, which holds similar event in the soccer champion country every year during the summer.
The Ethio-Sweden Federation, considered by many to be a pioneer however, had its ups and downs over the past decade. A few years ago, the Federation was split into two groups and whose aftereffect is believed to have stalled its growth. It survived the turbulent times and continued to serve as a meeting point for expat Ethiopians, including children, who were seen enjoying the various sport and cultural activities at the festival.
Participants nonetheless admit a lot remains to be done by the community — in terms of participation and making financial & material contributions to help the Federation live up to its objectives.
The Federation’s newly elected executive is now trying to formally get organized, and has recently secured its own bank account as well registered at the Swedish tax office.