Ethiopia and Russia as birds of the same feather, The Ethiopian Herald Sunday Edition. 18 August 2019
The inter connectivity of Ethiopia and Russia is not confined to political, economic and diplomatic activities alone. They also have cultural and religious linkages. The majority of people of both countries are the Orthodox faithful. The two have strict social norms and cultural affiliations.
The Russian Orthodox icon of mother of God “Kazanskaya” is exhibited at Russia Center of Culture and Science here in Addis. As is the case with the Ethiopian counterparts, the Russian Orthodox Church followers have a strong love for St. Mary- Mother of Jesus Christ.
The Icon of Mother of God “Kazanskaya” is considered as protector of Russian Land and people. The icon is associated with the Day of People’s Unity in Russia. Historically, the Icon helped Russia to emerge a victor in the face of adversities.
In other words, she was a holy icon of the highest stature within the Russian Orthodox Church, representing the Virgin Mary as the protector and patroness of the city of Kazan, and a palladium of all of Russia, known as the Holy Protector of Russia.
Close relationship, commonalities and kinship pop up into my mind upon watching the icon of St. Mary in Russia Center of Culture and Science here in Addis. The center has been creating undeniable and encouraging impact regarding cementing Ethiopia and Russia public diplomacy ties.
In this regard, The Ethiopian Herald had approached Dr.Taddele Gedlie who is member of the center. He is a Soviet/Russia graduate in the field of journalism and literature. He learnt at the University of Russia which named Voronezh State University. Dr. Taddele has showed willingness to tell us about the center on behalf of the center’s staff members.
Herald: To begin with, tell us about the backdrop of the center?
Dr. Taddele: Russian Cultural Center in Ethiopia is the oldest institution of its kind in the African continent. It was opened in 1945. At that time it went by the name of the Soviet Permanent Exhibition. RCSC is situated at the heart of Addis Ababa city. It has a spacious hall, a number of classes and studios, library and cafe with a big Russian samovar.
Herald: What sort of roles does the center play for the country?
Dr.Taddele: The center has been wielding positive influence on Ethiopian in different spheres of endeavor. Historically, Russia had lent a helping hand for Ethiopia since Italian’s attempt of invasion.
At the center, major tasks have been made revolving around the promotion of the Russia literature through the activities of book and writing clubs. Reciprocally speaking, the clubs have been reflecting and promoting the Ethiopian culture and traditions.
The center has been playing unshakable role in reinforcing Russia and Ethiopia ties. The center usually presents various artistic works in writing genres. The ambassadors as well attend the events to keep in touch with the Ethiopian people. It enthuses the youths to unleash their writing skills and widening their fan base.
Herald: Does the center have any contribution for the development of the education sector of the country?
Dr. Taddele: Yes it plays a role for the development of the education sector of the country serving as a platform for the exchange of new ideas, experiences, innovation and technology, cotemporary knowledge and wisdoms. In Russia, respected writers, expertise and artists are going to hold remembrance days.
So, such events are the usual happenings in the hinterland of Russia. The Russian people have virtual and due respect for artists who doing valid for the classical and contemporary arts. They deem artists as demi gods. That is why the center is attaching value to artistic works. When the center was established by the go ahead of Emperor Haile Selassie I, it aimed at promoting the values of education, science, technology, and social arts.
Haile Selassie allowed the inauguration of the center mindful of the fact that it will afford a forum for brainstorming.
Herald: Does the center involve in the overall development of the country?
Dr. Taddele: It serves as a springboard in molding the attitudes and perceptions of the youth for the betterment of their lives and the country’s in general.
It also plays a lot sharing ideals pertaining to Russians as well as their achievements in the sphere of science and technology.
It helps a lot to draw experiences and trends about the modernity and the development of the Russia country. Their pursuit of civilization is a lesson for the nation’s youths and the people at large. It gives a quantum leap for the youth’s passion to catapult to the heights of self-reliance and self-leadership.
I dare say that everything is available in the center if anyone visits the center to satisfy his/her curiosity to know about Russian people, language as well artistic and literary values.
Based on the agreement reached to work on exchanging understanding, brainstorming on knowledge and wisdom between the two countries’ people is still going on in a strengthened manner. For a voracious reader curious enough to know everything, unlimited library resources and bundle of books is available in the center’s library.
Attending film series in the center is an enjoyable and motivational experience Ethiopian youths.
Herald: What do you say about the intellectual communities of the country learnt in Soviet/Russia universities?
Dr. Taddele: There are so many think-thanks who studied in the Soviet/Russia universities in the fields of research and inquiry, journalism, agriculture, literacy, science and technology. And classical Russian literatures are translated from Russian language into Amharic language by the Ethiopians. They are published to the target audience.
Among the elites and epic- heroes who studied in Soviet/Russia universities, is found Fetawrarye Tekle- Hawariat was one of them. He contributed a lot in the diplomatic arena challenging and defeating fascist Italy.
The ice breakers of film production such as Berhanu Shebru and Abebe Kesella, were graduates of the Russian university. When it comes to fine arts- Eshetu Teruneh, Mezegebu Tesema and Bekele Mekonnen are worth mentioning individuals who studied in Russia.
As the result of the social influence and pressure of Russia literary works, most of Russia graduated elites have highly immersed with social revolution and social realism literary styles .Pushkin, Leo Tolstoy, M.Gorki, Dostovsky, Gogol, Nekrasove are few of writers who control and conquered positively the mind state of think-thanks.
Herald: What do you suggest on the influence of Russia literature on former Ethiopian elites that took training abroad?
Dr. Taddele: I too have got published several book translated from Russian
language to Amharic language taking into consideration the fact that the palatable Russia literature has cultural proximity to Ethiopians. Not only is that, commonalities apparent in expressions, story narrations, timing and context, moral values and conducts and personifications. For instance, Dangachew Worku has a book entitled Adefirse. If translated into Russian language, I bet they would love to read it.
Herald: Would you say something about the center’s provision of services? Tell us also about the clubs it has?
Dr. Taddele: It hosts various events like literary nights, art exhibitions, performing art, dramas and festivities, spectacular event and occasions, Russia independence day is also marked every year. Russian language study and ballet dance groups are among the groups the center boasts. Russia is well known throughout the world for ballet dance.
Herald: What do you think about the real identity of Alexander Pushkin?
Dr. Taddele: Literary, the Russia people allude to his Ethio-Russian blood. His ancestor came from Abraham Gannibal who sailed to Istanbul on boat crossing the Red Sea. Then the ambassador of Russia to Istanbul astonished by light dark skin of Abraham took him to Russia. Then after, the ambassador handed over Abram as a gift to Peteros I. Abraham was settled himself in the palace and emcee. Alexander Pushkin’s linage could be traced back to Abraham.
Herald: Which institutions support the Russia Center of Culture and Science?
Dr. Taddele: It is fully supported and sponsored by the Russia embassy. The first secretary of Russian embassy is the sole responsible body of the center.
Herald: Does the Russia involve in humanitarian and development activities here?
Dr.Taddele: Balcha Aba Nefso Hospital previously titled as Red Cross, is established by Russian and Ethiopian doctors. They were the ones who treated the injured Ethiopian armies when the Ethiopians fought with fascist Italy troops in the battle of Adwa. Also the Bahir Dar Poly Technic College was set up by Russians. And Meleka Wakena Hydro- electric Power was also built by the Russians. Generally speaking, Russians are actively engaged in the activities of trade, the expansion of infrastructural facilities and agriculture, among others.
Herald: Do you think the center accords due attention for the coming generation of the country?
Dr.Taddele: For about 6 months, the center teaches Russian language tailored to youths. Then according to their performances it grants to them scholarships. Frankly speaking, Russia generously extends a lot of support for the nation. There are several Russian medical doctors who are serving the country voluntarily. In short, Russia and Ethiopia have blood and marital bondages.
Herald: At last, you are welcome to convey additional messages