Ambassador New Year’s Wish

 Jai Ethiopia, Jai Hind!

At the very outset, I would like to extend New Year greetings to all. Also, a joyous Christmas wishes to those belonging to the Orthodox faith.

Historical linkages between India and Ethiopia go back thousands of years. People rightly say that Ethiopia is the “Land of Origins” and India is an “Ancient Civilization.” Trade contacts brought about exchange of ideas between these two old civilizations. For example, Ethiopian and Indian spices are quite similar as also Ethiopian Injera and Indian Dosa. The rock hewn churches of Lalibela and the temples of South India also shares engineering similarities.

Few hundred years ago, Ethiopians who travelled to India found far greater social mobility – some of them rose along the social ladder to become nobles, rulers or merchants in their own capacities. For instance, Malik Ambar constructed a fort at Janjira in western India. At Janjira, the Ethiopians developed their own kingdom. Later, they went on to occupy another fort at Sachin in Gujarat. Ethiopians (aka Abyssinians) also established a kingdom in eastern India, even though it was for a short time. The famous Firuz Minar at Gaur (three storey victory tower) was constructed by them. Some anthropologists have linked the Siddi community in southern India with the Ethiopians.

More than 100 years ago, it was estimated that there were about 150 Indian families in Dire Dawa and Addis Ababa. Today, we have about 50 families, mostly from Gujarat, that have lived in this beautiful country for the past 4-5 generations. Then, during the imperial times, thousands of Indian school teachers, mostly from Kerala, joined them in Ethiopia. They taught science and mathematics in schools, even in the remote parts of Ethiopia. Many of the Indian school teachers have returned to India though some of them have settled here. During the last 10 years, many Indian investors have joined them in Ethiopia. Also, there are about 1,500 Indian professors and lecturers in various public universities in Ethiopia. Today, there are about 6,000-7,000 Indian nationals. For all purposes, Ethiopia is their home.

India and Ethiopia have strong relations based on mutual understanding and respect, and sense of genuine partnership. I am very excited to be here as the two countries embark on celebrations to commemorate 75 years of our diplomatic relations.

 Jai Ethiopia, Jai Hind!

Robert Shetkintong
Indian Ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union

The January 1/2022

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