Islamabad: The Pakistani government has established diplomatic relations with Ethiopia, one of Africa’s oldest and second most populous countries, 75 years after independence.
Barely a month and a half after arriving in Islamabad and opening his country’s fully functional mission, the High Commissioner of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Jemal Beker Abdula, hosted a reception on the eve of the new Ethiopian year as well as National Unity Day.
On September 10 every year, Ethiopians celebrate their New Year as well as National Unity Day and according to Ambassador Jemal Beker Abdula on this day his compatriots reaffirm their faith in “love, forgiveness, unity and harmony” which they see as defining the values of their nation. It is also a sign of the diversity of the country which he called the real wealth and strength of Ethiopia.
A 13 month calendar
About the Ethiopian New Year, the High Commissioner said that Ethiopia has its own Geez alphabet system, a unique calendar system of 13 months – 12 months of 30 days and a 13th month of 5 days which has 6 every four years to compensate for a leap year.
“This public holiday in Ethiopia is celebrated on September 11 unless it is a leap year in the Ethiopian calendar, in which case it is celebrated on September 12.
“A gap of seven to eight years between the Ethiopian and Gregorian calendars results from an alternative calculation to determine the date of the Annunciation”, explained the ambassador in front of an amused audience.
However, his words “Visit Ethiopia if you want to look 7 years younger” had a magical effect and turned into thunderous applause. According to the Ethiopian calendar, September 10 marked the beginning of the year 2015.
South African High Commissioner Mthuthuzeli Madikiza, Deputy Chief of Mission (DHM) Kenya Margaret Mwachanya and DHM Tunisia Dorsaf Maaroufi expressed their joy at having a new member in the family of African diplomats in Islamabad.
High Commissioner Jemal said Ethiopia was the original land, the Lucy – the human fossil believed to be the first human – and also an earthly coffee. The Ethiopian village of Keffa is where the coffee got its name, he said. So, visiting Ethiopia is like visiting your ancestral land.
My country is also the source of the Nile, the longest river in the world. Another reason why Ethiopia is famous in the world is running, he said and even challenged the guests to compete with him in running. The country has produced the best athletes in the world, he said.
Impressed by Pakistani hospitality
The Ambassador said that since his arrival in Pakistan, he has been deeply moved by the hospitality, generosity and sincerity of the Pakistani people. It’s something that makes us feel like we’re living in our second home. The Ethiopian people are also warm, welcoming and friendly, he said.
On behalf of his government and the people, the Ethiopian Ambassador conveyed his heartfelt condolences to the people and government of Pakistan for the catastrophic floods that destroyed lives and property, roads and infrastructure. Pakistan, though contributing little to the climate crisis, is suffering greatly, he said, adding that the Ethiopian people as well as the government always stand by their brotherly country.
UNICEF Representative in Pakistan Abdullah A Fadil, Head of Citizen Services at the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Hussain Abdullah AlBaloshi, World Bank Practice Manager in Pakistan Read Ersado and Office Director Africa from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, Dr. Arshad Abbasi, also welcomed the opening of the Ethiopian mission and called it a good addition to the diplomatic horizon.