Events in Ethiopia have had multiple obstacles within the past couple of years. It started with the global pandemic that brought events to a dead stop, followed by strict social distancing rules. And when one would think the worst was behind us, the country then was overwhelmed by an armed conflict that brought on more crises.
The event organizing business was hit hard by cascading mishaps that kept happening within the country. Even though those same issues are far from over, the recently issued Great Homecoming has eased the halt by a milestone. The homecoming called on by the Prime Minister in response to western and eastern countries calling on their citizens to get out of Ethiopia, aimed to rehabilitate Ethiopia through the support of Ethiopians from all over the world.
The great homecoming of the Ethiopian diaspora upon the invitation of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD), commenced with the help of multiple welcoming events that are bringing in cash from the diaspora, while managing to entertain locals as well.
“The events have started pouring in already, as a diaspora who has been in Ethiopia for years now, I can see how surprising and entertaining the scene in the city must be for the new Diasporas. For the past month or so, the events I would get invited to, were getting limited but this week alone, I have gotten invitations to several events, the national urge to purchase locally made products is bound to elevate the economy. I personally cannot wait to see how the rest of the month plays out,” said Rebecca Zegeye, a diaspora who has been living in Ethiopia before the great Ethiopian homecoming.
Most of the events center around showcasing the diaspora how well adjusted the country is in contrast to reports made by western media. The event highlights the creative nature of the local community, while giving creative individuals the platform that would allow them to sell and show their products.
Creative people like Beruktawit Effrem, who was a vendor at yenegew bazaar showcasing her creatively designed, locally made tote and cosmetic bags, told The Reporter about the event and the effect the great homecoming has had on their business.
“The event might not have had as many Diasporas as expected but there were purchasers, who have shown interest in our products. Not only were there local and diaspora visitors but there were expatriates, who we have gained as customers. Going forward, we intend to start selling our products outside of the country as well. Since our products are local to the core, exporting them would bring in a much-needed attention towards local products,” Beruktawit said.
These welcoming events were held at Entoto Park, friendship square, Sheraton Addis, Capital hotel as well as Addis Diaspora Center. One of the events marked the official opening of the Addis diaspora center, which is set up to help the diaspora with issues of investment, immigration and other services under one roof. The events and services aim to bring in income from the diaspora to help mitigate current issues.
The homecoming is serving as redemption for event organizers whose businesses were suffering due to multiple national mishaps. Geta Mekonnen, who is a large event organizer who works at Tewanay studios, recalled the obstacle the state of the country as well as the pandemic has presented, and a redemption presented by the diaspora invitation.
“We have been in the event organizing business for more than 20 years now, and over the past few years’ events have been slow for a while, but this great homecoming presents us with the opportunity to organize a helpful event centered around assisting the diaspora in investing their hard-earned money on a local housing option. We organized the Addis real-estate expo to present multiple options under one roof, our event lasts for 16 days to offer the diaspora the option of attending on their own time, avoid a crowded room and the option of making an informed decision,” Geta said.
Events like yenegew bazar, Addis real-estate expo and other diaspora centric events are expected to boost local purchases. Most of the events aim to give back to the affected and displaced citizens by giving a percentage of their earning from the wave of events.
Capitalizing on western cultures to serve to the diaspora on a grander scale, the New Year’s events were a testimony to this, with multiple events set across the city, with each getting its own set of attendees. Well known event organizers, who have not been active during the state of emergency finally had the chance to host event goers.
Sirak Getachew, CEO of Shega events, responsible for the Bermel and fridaze event series, told The Reporter about the struggles they have had in the past and how the great homecoming reignited the event scene.
“When hosting events, we usually consider the likelihood of other events being hosted on the same date, but due to the surplus of demand, this past Friday proved to be exceptionally successful despite the large number of events. We had a full house, and we are definitely hoping to make up for lost time, which is tough on almost all event businesses.” Sirak said.
Although the estimated number of Diasporas expected to accept the invitation from the PM might not be met, the ones that have accepted the invitation might be enough to make a difference.
“Whether it is a million or a 100,000 people that are coming, it doesn’t matter, I can’t remember the last time we had such a reception. No matter how small of an investment or purchase the diaspora make, it is bound to shake up the market,” added Geta Mekonen.
The next month is expected to uplift businesses, events, tours and so much more. With more Diasporas expected to come back. The month is set to be eventful and a well needed boost for Ethiopia.