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malasay.com Forum Index » Harari Sports & Cultural Show » [b]Some Observations on July 4th Harari Festival in Toronto
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[b]Some Observations on July 4th Harari Festival in Toronto
PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 4:15 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 12 Jul 2006
Posts: 1

Hararis from allover North America and beyond came together in numbers one more time to celebrate the annual gathering and it was certainly a joyous event overall. But like everything in life, there was both the positive and negative aspect that was evident during the event. Let me start with a brighter note and pin point the strong side of the event.

1. The Dedication of the Organizers and those who helped make the event possible.
Organizing an event is not an easy task by any means; and one that runs throughout the week requires a great deal of commitment, dedication and participation from the community. I was touched by the coming together of Hararis for a single purpose and having a good time doing so.

2. Joyous Occasion for All
Since the beginning of the event eleven years ago, I have heard comments about the event from numerous angles both in praise and downplaying the occasion. But there is no dispute that the occasion is enjoyed by anyone who made arrangement to come to the event regardless of minor conveniences here and there. If the entire family is involved, it is much better for everyone. Hararis come to these occasions not exclusively for the event, but to get together with relatives and friends and chat about this and that and everything.

3. Young Hararis Get an Opportunity to Make Friends
It is evident that we do not have another means to bring Harari youth together except in these occasions to make friends and strengthen past relationships. And I have seen the youth of Toronto Hararis actively participating in their community and made the occasion a memorable one. And I say keep up the good work.

Now, I will go to the other side and will jot down my observation during the event.

1 Site Selection for the Event

Let me say that I was not impressed by the sites chosen for the event at all. Most of the sites for the event were a poor selection by far.

Soccer Field
I can not believe the organizers could not find any better field in this city considered to be one of the world?s capitals. Among the shortcomings of the soccer field, let me mention the following:

A. There was not a single shade in the field to protect participants from the heat. The organizers set up some tents for the crowd but it was not adequate.
B. There were no bleachers for spectators to watch the games and chat with each other. Aside from the field being uneven, one of the goal post was very near to the building where crowds of children were gathering and there were numerous cases were children were accidentally hit by a wild ball and many near misses.
C. The food serving area was barely adequate and there was not a single table where people could sit down and enjoy their meal with friends. If it was not for the mild summer weather, it would have been unbearable to stay in the food court.
D. The condition of the parking was a mess. Since the property had limited parking for the throng of Hararis who were at the event, there was hardly any space for vehicles to move in and out of the parking area. Many people were forced to park on the neighborhood street and get fined for doing so. There were some close calls of children who were playing in the parking lot of being runs by drivers.

Harari Day
The sites that were selected for both Harari Day and the gala nights were again not up to standard. The Harari Day event requires a real auditorium with good sound quality; and again I do not believe that this hall was the only thing available in this town. The programming for the Harari Day was a let down to say the least. I applaud the intention and courage of those who prepared the event who did their best under the circumstances, but I did not enjoy the program for a number of reasons which I will mention hereunder:

A. The way the drama was organized and executed was totally sub-par.
Is it asking much to set the stage for the show and bring a set designer?
Children in elementary schools design their set according to their presentation in order to bring it to reality. I am not talking about expensive set design, but just to make it real. The stage was cluttered with musical instruments and there was barely any space to do the act. And speaking of the act, I really appreciate the role of our children who are being introduced to the Harari culture because of this event and did a wonderful job under the circumstances, but were this drama rehearsed enough for presentation? It looked like they were rehearsing and doing the next scene right there behind the curtain. And oh! The curtain!
Whoever was controlling the curtain had a blast. I am not sure the number of times the curtain was moving from side to side, let me just say that it was really annoying. The one bright spot during the Harari Day event was the program that was prepared by the Sheik Jama. I am only talking about the organizational aspect here because I have seen the same thing repeated during the opening ceremony, Mawlud and picnic event.
B. Like any other Harari Day event, there were too many speeches by guests that should have been filled with programs that educate and entertain. Believe me, there are very few of us who pay this amount of money to hear speeches the contents of which have been repeated so many times.
C. It has almost become a tradition for Hararis to show up for an event late. I am not talking about being late half an hour or so but being late like hours or maybe half a day. I am sure this messed up the beginning of the program for Harari Day which forced them to extend the event late into the night. My advice for this is just start the program with the people at hand. There is no reason to punish those who obeyed the rule and came on time to satisfy the needs of those who came late. And what better way to teach late comers to mend their ways?
D. Half the audience who filled the hall were children who paid their share for the event but I am not sure they got their money?s worth because they were all over the place disrupting the attention of others in the process. I am not exactly sure how to handle this mess, but it is not in the interest of both to put them together and leaving things for a chance.

The Fee Structure for the Event
I can not say for certain what the organizers have in mind when they set up the fee structure for the event, but from what I have gathered from some of the participants, there was a lot of complaints concerning the fees. I have heard it from so many people that the intentions of the organizers were to make the most money with the bare minimum expenses. If this is really the case, I think it is counter to the work that we are doing to bring the Harari community together in these events. From the looks of it, it seems like most of the places for the event were secured with the least expenses. And judging from the crowd?s reaction, the fees charged for the Harari Day event was out of line, considering one was obligated to pay for children as old two years old. Together with the fees one has to pay for the two gala nights, I can understand the frustration of the crowd. Compared to the event last year in Washington, DC, Hararis were ready to pay twenty bucks and much less for children for Harari Day and the larger sum for the gala nights because of the quality of the hotels where the event was held. The Toronto organizers should have considered the reactions of the guests when setting up the fees because a great deal of work is invested in bringing Hararis together in this event and we certainly would not like to loose them because of this. No one disputes that the funds would be allocated to a noble cause of building the Harari community in Toronto, but I am of the opinion that we should gradually build the community and not do everything at once because there might be a price for doing so.

The Gala Nights
I am not quite sure what kind of option the Toronto organizers have in selecting the performers for these nights. To put it mildly, the crowd was not pleased with the performers during the first nights and there was a slight improvement during the second night. Explanation is in order from the organizers as to what happened to the rest of the performers who were supposed to perform on these nights according to the announcement form the event web site. The only performers available were the Hablul duo and Newala. Although the Hablul duo did their best to entertain the people, they have not met the expectations of the crowd who are used to the performance of Adib and his group. Well, I am sure they will learn the craft of the trade as they get used to, but the bottom line is it was a let down.

Another Harari tradition that is developing in these events is the role of some individuals and groups who are trying everything to divide the community. In the previous two events held in Toronto and Washington, DC, the former executive members of the Harari Sports and Cultural Federation (HSCF) and their few followers did everything in their power to sabotage the annual event without avail. And this year was no different.Taking their cues from the former HSCF executives, the Muasis group chose to do their own separate event on Wednesday night and I heard that the whole thing fell short of their expectation because the crowd ignored their effort to divide the community and stayed with the real organizers. In a desperate effort, the Mousis groups went out of their way and revert to freely distribute their tickets to entice the crowd to come to their event, but again they learned their lesson the hard way. The fate that fell on the former HSCF took its turn on the Mousis group this time for ignoring the wishes of the people and going against their interest. It should be known to them by now they should give a little bit credit to Hararis for being ahead of them. Another group that was running around to plant discord in the unity of Hararis was the remnants of the old HSCF who were also trying to convince anyone who could listen to ignore the real thing and come into their fold. Again it was a last ditch effort on their part, but it fell on deaf ear. I will not be surprised if these two groups come together and try to divide our unity come next time around. I keep wondering what motivates this group to waste their time and energy for something the community does not care one bit at all, but I believe for some individuals controlling their ego is a daily exercise in futility.

I have spoken to so many people during the event to gage their views and so many people were delighted to have met many of their friends whom they have not seen for decades. Time has taken its tall on many of us and certainly we are not who we used to be, but it was a delight to meet once more to reminisce about shared experiences. Ziwariq day was a particularly happy occasion because members of different organizations who do not usually get along have come in unity. It is good to see even groups who prefer do their own thing to come together on this day for a united event.

The quality of the food that was served during the event was excellent and a good bargain for what was paid. Generous portions were being served despite my protestation. I have said it before, but I will say it again, I was really impressed by the community spirit that was shown by members who prepared the food and those who served it. I believe credit is due to all those who selflessly provided their time and energy to make this event a success. I would also like to make mention of the dedication and work ethics of the active participants of the Toronto community and particularly HCO members who welcomed and entertained us without a word of complaint. Kudos for a job well done.

I have attended both the Washington, DC and Toronto event I have noticed something gravely lacking in both events and I hope future organizers should give a serious thought for the next one. It is the issue of security and particularly concerning the safety of children in all the venues. It was only by grace of Allah that nothing happened to the children in both events. I have not seen a single security guard in all the venues and I fear that it?s only a matter of time before something grave happens to our children. Someone with a dirty mind could have a field day in these events because children were running all around without any supervision while their parents and guardians were meeting and exchanging stories with old friends. In the picnic grounds, children were playing near the water without any supervision and I had to watch some of them out of concern. May Allah forbid, but a single grave incident could have marred the whole occasion. Therefore, let us give this issue a serious thought and bring some outside security personnel to watch over the children the next time we have our annual gathering.

This critical piece is written with the best of intentions to correct our errors and to prepare us for the next event with the experience we have gained. I would like to know the views of the organizers if they have achieved everything they planned for. And it would have been a good practice if past organizers left the summation of their adventure for the next group to learn from. We should try to be very critical of our work and try to improve upon it by accepting and correcting our errors. That is the only way we can go on improving upon what we have achieved.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:33 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Posts: 101
Location: World


Thank you for your objective anaylsis. The only to imporve future events are from a "talker" rather than a "walker". The learning process continues.

I must congratulate Toronto for a job well done and for giving us rooms for improvement. Big UPS for Toronto!

"All intellectual improvements arise from leisure"! unknown author
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[b]Some Observations on July 4th Harari Festival in Toronto
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