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Ambassador Jemal Beker Abdula

Islamabad: The Pakistan government has established diplomatic ties with Ethiopia — one of Africa’s oldest and the second most-populated country — 75 years after independence.

Barely one-and-a-half months since he arrived in Islamabad and opened his country’s fully-functional mission, High Commissioner of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Jemal Beker Abdula hosted a reception on the eve of Ethiopia’s New Year as well as the National Unity Day.

On September 10 every year, the Ethiopians celebrate their New Year as well as the National Unity Day and according to Ambassador Jemal Beker Abdula on this day his countrymen and women reaffirm their faith in “love, forgiveness, unity and harmony” which they consider as defining values of their nation. This is also a sign of the country’s diversity which he called Ethiopia’s real wealth and strength.

A calendar of 13 months

About the New Year of Ethiopia, the high commissioner said Ethiopia had its own alphabetic-Geez, a unique calendar system of 13 months—12 months of 30 days and a 13th month having 5-days that counts 6 every four years to make up 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 in determining the date of the Annunciation,” the ambassador explained to an amused audience.

However, his words “Visit Ethiopia if you want to grow 7-year younger” had a magical effect and it broke into a loud applause. According to the Ethiopian Calendar, September 10 marked the beginning of the year 2015.

High Commissioner of South Africa Mthuthuzeli Madikiza, Deputy Head of Mission (DHM) Kenya Margaret Mwachanya and DHM Tunisia Dorsaf Maaroufi expressed their joy upon having one new member in the African family of diplomats in Islamabad.

High Commissioner Jemal said Ethiopia was the land of Origin, the Lucy — the human fossil that is believed to be the first human — and also a land coffee. It is in Ethiopia’s village Keffa where coffee gets its name, he said. Thus 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 Ethiopia is famous around the world is running, he said and even challenged the guests to compete with him in running. The country has produced the world’s best athletes, he said.

Impressed by hospitality of Pakistanis

The ambassador said since he arrived in Pakistan he was highly moved by the hospitality, generosity and sincerity of the people of Pakistan. This is something that gives us a feeling that we are living in our second home. The people of Ethiopia too are equally warm, welcoming and friendly, he said.

On behalf of his government and the people, the Ethiopian ambassador conveyed his heart-felt condolences to the people and the government of Pakistan on the catastrophic floods that played havoc with lives and properties, roads and infrastructure. Pakistan though contributed little to the climate crisis but is suffering much, he said and said the people of Ethiopia as well as the government always stood by their brotherly country.

UNICEF Representative in Pakistan Abdullah A Fadil, the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Embassy’s Head of Citizen Services Hussain Abdullah AlBaloshi, World Bank Pakistan’s Practice Leader Lire Ersado and Director of Africa Desk, Foreign Office of Pakistan Dr Arshad Abbasi also welcomed opening of the Ethiopian mission and called it a good addition on the diplomatic horizon.