President Uhuru Kenyatta has paid special tribute to Ethiopia as a constant reminder of why Africans should preserve their culture and traditions, and guard hard-earned sovereignty of African states.
Speaking when he joined other regional Heads of State and Government at the inauguration of the Unity Park on Thursday, he said Addis Ababa remains a historical icon and significant city on the African continent because of Ethiopia’s reputation as one of the countries that successfully resisted colonialism.
The Sh17 billion museum, built inside the Ethiopian National Palace, documents the country’s journey through generations.
“Ethiopia is endowed with a rich and colourful history that makes it unique on the continent. As one of the few countries to resist and defeat efforts at colonialism, it serves as a constant reminder of the need to preserve our culture and sovereignty,” said President Kenyatta.
He said the preservation of African cultural heritage and historical assets will serve to restore the dignity, honour and well-being of the African people.
“Preserving and restoring African cultural heritage and the protection of our environment is a huge investment that we as leaders must continue to champion tirelessly,” he said.
He commended Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the political leadership of Ethiopia for efforts to entrench democracy and create unity in the country. “I would like to commend you for the bold steps you have taken on political reform and gender inclusivity. Opening the Palace is an indication of your efforts to entrench democracy,” President Kenyatta told PM Ahmed, adding that Kenya and Ethiopia continue to enjoy cordial relations as the two neighboring countries mark 55 years since they established bilateral relations.
Other regional leaders who attended the inauguration ceremony included President Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), President Mohamed Abdullahi (Somalia), President Salva Kiir (South Sudan) and Sudan Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok.
Several other countries, including Djibouti, were represented by Cabinet ministers or special envoys at the event that was also addressed by Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde. The leaders praised Ethiopia for its economic transformation and for remaining a strong African nation. The Unity Park, which comprises the palaces of former rulers of the country among them Emperor Menelik II and Emperor Haile Selasie, pays tribute to Ethiopia’s legacy as an unconquered country during the continent’s dark period of colonisation by European powers.
Sections of the palace were renovated at the cost of five billion Birr (Sh17.5 billion) to develop display pavilions of cultural and historical assets of the country’s nine regional states to signify the reconciliation and unity efforts being championed by the Ethiopian government.
Ahead of the launch ceremony, regional leaders held talks with Prime Minister Ahmed followed by a tour of the vast Unity Park.
The Palace, in which the park is situated, hosts the Prime Minister’s office and is the official seat of power of the Ethiopian state.
As part of the elaborate celebrations to mark the opening of the facility, the visiting Heads of State and Governments as well as invited guests were treated to traditional performances, including dances from across the country of more than 110 million people.
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