Ancient links between India and Ethiopia have existed even before history was recorded during the Auximite period (2nd to 9th Century A.D.) According to historian Richard Pankhurst, “contacts between the land which came to be known as Ethiopia and India date back to the dawn of history.” Trade between India and the Axumite Kingdom flourished in the 6th century A.D. The ancient port of Adulis served as an entry-pot and the hub of maritime trade where Indian traders flocked to trade in spices and silk for ivory and gold.

In later periods, the arrival of Indians in the 17th Century with the support of the Portuguese, the Indian troops in 1868 brought by Robert Napier who was then the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in Bombay and in 1935 when fascist Italy invaded Ethiopia were important events. Indian artisans and workers played an important role in the development of the famous city of Gondar and the Palace of Emperor Fasilidas [1]

General Rawley had been loaned by India to set up a Military Academy for Ethiopia. A large number of Indians had been employed between the late sixties and the nineties on a contractual basis to teach in the country’s primary and secondary schools. But with the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie by Colonel Mengistu, the new communist regime introduced a policy of “Ethiopianisation” which meant that foreigners were not allowed to teach in Ethiopian schools. Consequently, all the teachers and a large number of Indian businessmen moved to other destinations.

Only a few Indians remained behind, among whom were those who had settled down in the country for more than three generations [2]

Hindus in Ethiopia

At one time there were more than 9000 families in Ethiopia. By the mid-80s their number had come down to 8000. Presently, the Indian community numbers approximately 1500 nationals plus an approx. number of 400 teaching staff on contractual assignment [3]

Around a hundred of them are businessmen. Mainly from Gujarat, they work as commission agents of various import-export companies.

Another 150 are professors who teach in the Defence Ministry’s Engineering College and in various faculties of leading Ethiopian universities and other institutions of higher learning. Six of them teach in the Civil Services College, a prestigious institution under the Prime Minister’sOffice that is similar to our Administrative Staff College. As many as 15 Indian professionals are on the staff of various UN agencies in Addis Ababa [4]

Indian Associations in Ethiopia

There are three associations, The Indian Association set up in 1937, The Hindu Mahajan and The Malayalam Association. There is also an Indian National School which is an autonomous institution set up in 1947 under the auspices of the Indian Association [5]

Hindus are allowed cremation rights in Hindu Mahajan located in Addis Ababa.

Indian businessmen

Indian businessmen run two of the three Indian restaurants in Addis Ababa. Several Indian PSUs - TCIL, WAPCOS, RITES, ICT, etc. have won a number of contracts. Their officials in Ethiopia enjoy a good rapport with their local counterparts. All in all, Ethiopians hold the Indian community in high esteem [6]

External links

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