In Dili for East Timor’s 10th anniversary

It’s not every day you get to be part of a country’s 10th anniversary celebrations.

What was the most amazing part of it for me?  Not the red, black and yellow flags and bunting festooned all around Dili.  Not being at the same events as the Indonesian and Portugese Presidents – or spotting the Governor General in stylish pastel pink.    The sight that will stay with me for a long time is that of  thousands of people lining both sides of the road as they walked late at night to Tasi Tolu, the area on the outskirts of Dili where a ceremony was held at midnight on the eve of the anniversary.  Over 100,000 people gathered around the stage, trying to catch a glimpse of the speeches on a few large screens and marvelling at the fireworks which concluded it.  For such a young country, where memories of violence are still recent, the celebrations were of huge significance.