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KEREN SECONDARY REUNION OF SUMMER 2008 TORONTO CANADA                          

On behalf of myself and the organizing committee, I would like to extend my gratitude and thanks to every one who participated on this nostalgic occasion either by travelling from all corners of USA and Australia or from all parts of Canada . Our special thanks also goes to our members in Toronto who helped us financially and morally without which the success would not have happened. Many of you had been communicating with us constantly with constructive advice.

Our thanks also to Mr Rajan and Mrs Indira Rajan who travelled from Philadelphia and whose presence enlightened the whole event. Thanks to Mr Roger and his wife Barbara whose slides they shared with us gave a true meaning to the

Reunion . Our appreciations and congratulations to the organizing committee who sacrificed their time for the last eight months for a good cause(Bahlibi Tekle, Hassen Feraj, Tesfagabir Mesghina, Zaineb Warah, Yacoub Abdella,Gimai  Abdella Alishek, and webmaster Adel Omer .Although Yohannes Ferdinando is in Ottawa, he was an important member of the committee)

The first ever high school reunion from Eritrea held in Seneca College from July 4th to July 6th in Toronto was very successful which went well  one hundred times beyond our expectations. The objectives of the reunion as was said at its inception were all met. We said it will be a meeting for people from all walks of life and indeed it was. Our slogan was “We learned together and we will bond for ever”. It is a blessing to see every one happy, enjoying with each other, focusing on old stories, events, jokes, and constructive ideas for the future of our children.  The following is a summary of day by day event.

Friday July 4: Our guests out of Toronto started to arrive to their assigned hotel rooms at Seneca College . At about 8:00 p.m dinner was served for every one in the OASIS hall thanks and admiration to our own ladies from ladies who managed to prepare the dinner. The nostalgic Mr. Roger’s Keren slides were seen with enjoyment and laughter.  

After Socializing and getting together for about four hours, music and entertainment was followed until 12:30 a.m. This evening was attended by about 200 people.

Saturday July 5: This was the main day which focused on the main purpose of the event. Registrations and coffee started at 10 am in the lecture hall. The volunteers who helped the registration process were our sons and daughters. Our conference started at 10: 30 am. The high light of the event was the lighting of three candles by three members who were part of the first group of high school students, namely, Medhin Ferdinando, Saadia Aman, and Asfaha Woldemicael. They lighted the three candles in memory of our classmates who couldn’t be with us, our deceased elementary and high school teachers, and in memory of all Eritreans who gave their lives for the sake of freedom. After that one minute silence was practiced.

A brief introduction outlining the objectives of the meeting was given by a member of the organizing committee, Hassen Feraj. A short welcome speech by a member of the first group of Keren high school students, Asfaha Woldemicael, was followed.  Elsa Eman delivered her congratulatory note on behalf of our daughters and sons. Mr Rajan and Mr Roger gave excellent speeches focusing on Keren during their stay. Congratulatory letters from Zeresenai, from Dr Demsas, from Dr Mansura and Teclu, and from Ghirmay Hadembes were read. Unfortunately, we received letters from Letti Hadgu and Beimnet Zaid one day later. A member of the organizing committee, Tesfagabir Mesghina, gave detailed analysis of the activities of Keren students during high school years.  Dr. Woldemariam Ghebresselase gave a nice lecture on prevention and control of Kidney disease. This was followed by Yohannes Ferdinando‘s speech on social relationships in the past, in the present, and in the future. Lunch was served in the OASIS hall courtesy of the organizing committee. After lunch Saleh Johar gave a speech on tributes to the town of Keren . Dr Ogbay Mesmer’s lecture on heart disease and heart attack was followed. The last official speaker was Dr. Mesghina Yasin reminding parents to act as teachers and friends to their children. On the free period many members gave a concrete advice how to deal with our children and how to make ourselves healthy and happy. Even though every one was equally important in this meeting, Wolday Abbe with his jokes and professional dancing gave salt and pepper to this important occasion and Afeworki Tesfazghi (shehen) entertained the audience with the old Tigre songs. The meeting was concluded peacefully with every one affirming the desire of continuing this kind of event .The meeting during day time was attended by 230 people. Again dinner was served courtesy of the organizing committee at about 8:00p.m. Dancing and entertainment followed until 1:00 a.m. The evening was attended by more than 300 people.

Sunday July 6: This was a picnic day open to anyone. The picnic and BBQ was in a municipal park at Dufferin and Finch. BBQ was served courtesy of the organizing committee from 11:00 am to 6:00 p.m. Many children enjoyed playing soccer, volleyball, and Frisbee. Adults were engaged in nostalgic talks and laughter.

An additional 150 people who were not part of the previous two days participated in this picnic.

In conclusion, the event was very successful and ended peacefully with mutual respect with whatever political ideology one followed, or whatever religion one belonged to. This is the kind of meeting we need which unites us as one people with sole objective of making Eritreans happy and successful wherever they go and whatever ideas they have. Many members who didn’t go to Keren High School participated with good will with purpose of unity and desire of getting together.  

We didn’t get an opportunity to choose new committee members from the floor, but some members were nominated as task force members to give ideas when and where the next event would take place. I personally believe we should add more names from all geographical parts of USA and Canada . As the organizers of the first reunion we can not ignore and escape from this cause without having a concrete alternative. I am sure every one of us will collaborate for the success of this cause.

A professional videographer shot the entire event and a copy will be available soon to every one for purchase. A professional photographer also took the entire event.

See you in the next event!!!!!!!!

Bahlibi Tekle


A script of the speech given by Hassen Fereg at the 1st Alumni conference - July, 04, 2008

It is a privilege and pleasure for me to address and open this first re-union of Keren High school students. The idea of gathering and having a re-union of Keren High school students was lingering among some if not all of us for quite some time. I recall four years ago friends like Yacob Abdullah and Yohannes Drar calling for one. I could never comprehend that it could be possible. However, thanks to all mighty God. It is here, a dream came true.

Dear Colleagues:

The question, “why a reunion?” begs an answer. Those who graduate from high school and college/university are all alumni. It is common practice for alumni members to gather after 2 to 4 years. Unfortunately, we are now only gathering after 40 years due to our circumstances. A re-union is an opportunity to catch up with old friends and to a lesser extent make new ones.

We are holding this to renew our commitment to our old tradition of brotherhood, unity and cooperation. We are holding this for the welfare of our community.

I can’t say much about Keren secondary school without discussing Keren the city. Keren is a cosmopolitan town with all the Eritrean ethnic groups and religious traditions living side by side. It is a town were more than eight other nationalities have assimilated into. It is a town where a Muslim lives beside a Christian in harmony and understanding. It is a town where disputes are settled under the oak tree of (Keren -stadium). A town where you can’t distinguish between the have and the have not. It is a town where the struggle and the sacrifice were fairly distributed among its inhabitants. It is a town that unfortunately shares a similar history with My Lai in Vietnam.

We all remember the massacre of Awna, Bessighdera and Rura. Keren is a town where the first martial law was imposed from sunset to sundown to confine its people. It is a town which sacrificed so others can flourish. It is here brothers and sisters that most of us went to school with at Keren Secondary school.

1974 was marked by the recruitment of some of our alumni to the liberation front as well as the exodus from our homeland for others. The waves of time carried everyone to their respective destinies. Here, I am sure, everyone has a story to tell.

Today we are gathered to address the disconnection, bridge the gaps and focus on what can bring us together. What are the common factors that unite us?

The organizing committee for this event, would like to declare that this reunion, is not affiliated to any political organization, or political group (either opposing and or/supporting) and we stand by this. This disclaimer was stated on our website.

Brothers and sisters before my conclusion my due thanks to the following:

Eritreans of Keren living in Toronto and surrounding who supported us financially and morally was well as our volunteer group who worked tirelessly to make this event successful.

My colleagues in the organizing committee, Bahlibi Tekle, T/Ghaber Messghena, Zeinb Werah, Yacob Abdullah and Jemi Abdallah as well as their spouses who endured the never ending meeting that we were helding. Berkti, Aziza Mussa, Zeinb Werah’s family, Romana Hussien Kafle and Gamiela Mohamed Amman. Our special thanks to Adel Omer who is our webmaster. He solely designed the website, maintained it and incurred all the expenses himself.

Our due thanks to Yohannes Drar (Fernando) who acted as self appointed Public relations liaison to promote the event.

Our thanks and gratitude for all those who accepted the invitation and came from as far as Australia, Europe and the USA.

It is unfortunate that we are deprived of the presence of our beloved teacher and guide Osman Umar Imran who made every effort to join us today. There was a delay regarding the issuing of the VISA, something which is out of our control. Our appreciation also goes to our respected principal Utaz Mohamud Kannoni who unfortunately couldn’t be with us due to personal circumstances. There were also many with sincere intentions who could not make it for one reason or another. All are equally missed.

A lion’s share of the gratitude to our former teachers. Rajan Indirh, Mr. Rogers as well as those keynote speakers. Dr. Oghbai, Dr G/Mariam, W/Sellasie and Mr Saleh Joher. Special love to Br. Mohamed Saleh Joher and the awate group who facilitated the promotion of the website www.sweetkeren.com. Our due thanks to chief Tzhie of 89.3 Dallas radio. Last but no least our appreciation goes out to all those guests who never had the chance to go to Keren Secondary school yet out of respect they are here today.

We will pursue the high ground for the united way and without you all there would be no way.

Wishing you all the best of the event.


A message sent by Mr. Mohmoud Kanony on the eve of the alumuni

To my dear and beloved Keren Student:

You can not imagine how happy I was to receive your invitation and equally very sorry to say I will not able to attend the event, simply because of unforeseen circumstances.

Your school was established under a very intense situation and a period of a great turmoil of people struggling to liberate their country. In spite of all the difficulties surrounding Keren, you were unable to pursue your studies with diligence, determination and discipline.

I recall those who were walking daily miles and miles on foot to attend their school. Coming from Alimental, Baggu, Megareh…etc.., through the famous Gira Fiore.

Keren then was under strict curfew from 6am to 6pm. It was under military emergency proclamation.

You were studying under such circumstances. The spirit of cooperation, hard work, friendship, brotherhood and sincere collaboration are values instilled in you. Therefore, no wonder you come together in a reunion of Keren Secondary school. For this I encourage you to keep up to it and again I extend my apology for not being among you on these remarkable and memorable achievement.

God bless you all.

Mahmoud Kanony

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A message from Mansura Abdallah and Teclu Ogbamichael

Dear participants,

We are sad that we are among you and envious because we know that you are having a whale of a time. However, although we are not physically there to celebrate and remember our days at, we are holding our own little reunion in Canberra at Teclu’s. We have spent the last few hours sharing our experiences, what it meant to be a Kerenite and especially a student of that great school. Considering the odds, it never ceases to amaze us how much students of Keren School have achieved in their respective fields and the contributions, albeit small, they are making wherever they are. It is with great pride that we remember our teachers who were not only teachers but mentors, friends, father figures and inspirational leaders. We thank you for helping us continue to uphold the spirit of Keren.

Of course the story would not complete without our fellow students, who are no more. There are dearly missed, especially on this day.

By theway, how can we talk about our school days in Keren without remember A’boy Yonathan and his jokes and A’boy Nuru and his sweet tea and umboteto.

To the organizers, our greatest admiration and gratitude for making it possible to reunite the scattered children of Keren school.

We hope to be with you in the next reunion, wherever it might be.

Lots and lots of love

Mansura Abdallah and Teclu Ogbamichael.

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A message from Osman Omar Imran

To: Mr Bahlibi & Mr.Hassan

Please convoy my greeting & best wishes to all members of Keren high school reunion and congratulate them on this occasion.

Dear sons

I was dreaming to be among you sharing with you this great pleasure but Allah did not confirm and be sure that my soul and spirit with you all the time. So go ahead with your plan and strength the relationship between you, by putting hand on hand. Allah be with you and save you to do more and more for you community.

Thank you very much

Osman Omar Imran