New Delhi, March 20 (IANS) Ethiopia, one of the world’s most ancient countries, is broadening its cultural footprint in India, with the opening of the first Ethiopian Cultural Centre, complete with a traditional coffee shop, in the capital.
The centre – a sprawling facility with crafts display rooms, meeting space and an elegant coffee shop in the diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri – will serve the “purpose of introducing Ethiopian culture to India and to the international community”, Gennete Zewide, the ambassador of Ethiopia to India, said.
The centre was inaugurated Tuesday evening by the Ethiopian state minister of industry Ato Tadesse Haile in the presence of the Ethiopian envoy, Indian businessmen, a host of dignitaries from African nations, here for the 9th India-Africa Conclave, and members of the diplomatic corps.
Addressing the inauguration, Zewide said the major attraction of the Ethiopian Cultural Centre was an Ethiopian Coffee Shop that will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and promote the country’s rich coffee tradition in India as a symbol of its cultural bonding. The act of drinking coffee is a ceremonial women’s bonding rite in Africa. Known as the ‘Coffee Ceremony’, the ritual has a “cultural, social and economic significance”, Zewide said.
“The women of the community – who work for long hours – sit over coffee to relax and discuss their problems,” Zewide said. The envoy said she was also planning to add a library for students to study Ethiopian culture and popularise it”.
“There should be more people to people cultural relationship. We are hoping that the centre will not be limited to showcasing Ethiopian culture alone. This should be the seat of other African cultures as well. My other colleagues (from African nations represented in India) will use it to demonstrate their culture,” the envoy said.
Ethiopia, the second-most populous country in Africa with 91 million people, and India share a history of relationship that spans more than 2,000 years, state industry minister Ato Tadesse Haile said. “Both countries were trading various items along the Indian Ocean. Currently both Ethiopia and India enjoy political relations and a fast-growing mutually beneficial economic cooperation,” the minister said.
In the cultural sector, the two nations engage with the exchange of a large number of students. “We will be able to play a significant role with the centre to introduce India to Ethiopian culture,” the minister said putting it in context.
He said although India and Ethiopia were geographically apart, the centre would show how close the countries were.
Ethiopia has inked a new MoU with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for greater cooperation in the industrial sector as well. The inauguartion of the centre was marked by a bouquet of the country’s colourful performance traditions.