Published on July 3,2015
Every summer, for seven days, thousands of members of Ethiopia’s diaspora community in the US and Canada meet for the largest Ethiopian sports and cultural festival hosted outside of Ethiopia.
This year, the 2015 Ethiopian Sport Federation in North America Festival is being held at College Park Byrd Stadium in Maryland and Echostage in Washington DC.
Festival organizers say they have attracted their largest crowd in 30 years. Scores of Ethiopian Americans are attending their soccer and golf tournaments, concerts, trade fairs, awareness campaigns, and religious sermons.
The festival dates back to 1984 and provides a fascinating insight into Ethiopia and Ethiopian American politics, culture, and history.
With the exception of Ethiopian government representatives or pro-government diaspora groups – who are largely absent from the festival – participants include Ethiopians from all walks of life including exiled journalists, politicians, and activists. Ethiopian religious groups, business people, and art exhibiters also participate in the festival with an entrenched need to stay afloat with the affairs of their home country.
According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), Ethiopia-born immigrants constitute the second largest African immigrant group in the US after Nigeria. The institute estimates about 251,000 Ethiopian immigrants and their children live in the United States today. According to a former policy analyst at MPI Aaron Matteo Terrazas, “if the descendants of Ethiopian-born migrants are included, the estimates range upwards of 460,000 in the United States.”