President Cyril Ramaphosa receiving Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia in Kimberley today. Prime Minister Abiy is in South Africa on an official visit at the invitation of the President. PICTURE: Elmond Jiyane / GCIS

KIMBERLEY - Ethiopian Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Abiy Ahmed has called on the SA government to join forces with his administration in developing the building which housed struggle icon Nelson Mandela while undergoing military training in that country into a heritage site.

Ahmed was delivering a message of support at the ANC’s 108th birthday rally in Kimberley, Northern Cape, on Saturday where thousands of the party’s faithful packed the Tafel Lager Park Stadium to listen to President Cyril Ramaphosa deliver the January 8 statement.

Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace prize last year for forging a peace deal with Ethiopia’s neighbouring Eritrea after almost 20 years of military stalemate which followed the two country border war between 1998 and 2000, said he and many Ethiopians revered Mandela.

Mandela had briefly undergone military training in Ethiopia in 1962 where he entered under the cover name of David Motsamai in his passport.

“In his autography, Madiba speaks fondly about Ethiopia as a country that inspired him to continue with the struggle against apartheid,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed said Ethiopians continued to be inspired by his legacy, especially his thoughts and vision of dedicated service to humanity.

“His immense contribution and exemplary leadership taught us the promotion of the culture of peace, tolerance and inclusiveness and forgiveness. This is a vision close to our hearts. We always remember Madiba for his enduring values of peace and reconciliation,” he said.

“The building in which Madiba was housed while undergoing his military training in Ethiopia is still standing but far from the manner that represents the great history it witnessed.  Let me cease this opportunity, comrade president, to call upon our two countries’ cooperation into developing this historic place it’s a site,” he said.

He said regardless of the differing political orientation in his country and abroad, all successive Ethiopian governments had firmly supported the cause of the people of SA for freedom and equality, adding that his party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), was committed to continue forging ties with both SA and the ANC.

“The friendship between the people of Ethiopia and SA goes back decades before the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries. The people of Ethiopia and SA share a long history of strong bonds. Thousands of Ethiopians live in SA and consider it home. We are grateful for the hospitality. We are grateful for opening your doors and hearts in the spirit of African solidarity,” he said.

Politics Bureau