ESFNA, otherwise known as the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America, is a melting pot of sport, food, dance, love, God, and culture held once a year by the Habesha community. Every year, a different city is chosen and a little Ethiopia is formed, this year in Seattle. From July 2nd-8th and every day at 10am-11pm the games commenced. The tournament’s purpose is to bring together the Habesha community, to unify. For me, a twenty-year-old Ethiopian man, this was the first tournament I had ever attended yet it felt familiar. Walking the fields where vendors lay selling shirts with the colors of our flag and foods that tasted of spices from my motherland. Smells that brought back memories of our ancestral past, this place was home. I heard the language of my people roll off of their tongues with effortless eloquence as they screamed from the stands and sung along to the music:
“Hagere, Ethiopia!….Hagere, Ethiopia!”
Translation: “My country, Ethiopia!….My country, Ethiopia!”
Pride and joy were visceral within those seven days and I leave with a sense of comfort in my culture. This tournament is more than what the posters show, you can’t explain culture this deep, but you can feel it, and you can see it.
…Until next year, see you in Dallas.
-Photographed & Written by anteneh tebeje