The Goethe-Institute will be celebrating its 50th year anniversary in Ethiopia on April 11, 2012. The institute that was opened in June 1962 has been a venue for the exchange of cultures and opinions for five decades. Among its guests are people who work in media, in theater and fine arts.
The institution has contributed to a deeper understanding between the peoples of both countries. It has launched, directed and/or coordinated a great many projects and programs on German and Ethiopian history, sociology, culture and language, in the course of which it has steadily made a point of working closely with Ethiopian cultural institutions, and private and public initiatives.
“There will be colorful flags with pictures and statements to show the history of the institute. The flags will be hung on the road starting from Arat kilo to Sidest Kilo to represent the institute’s different locations,” said Elke Kaschi Mohni, Director of the institute at a press conference held at the institution on 30th of March 2012.
The Goethe-institute in Addis Ababa was one of the first to be set up in Africa. The incentive came from Ethiopians who had studied in Germany and had turned to their government and the German embassy with their request. Diplomatic relations between the two countries already had a long history at the time; Germany and Ethiopia had signed a treaty of friendship and commerce as early as 1905.
The institute that also functions as a language center doesn’t confine its efforts to language instructions but has been active in many fields’ endeavors.The Ethiopian Revolution in 1974, however, put an obstruction on the energy of the early years. At the time, East Germany took the country under its wing, and the new rulers of Ethiopia were closer to Communist East Germany than to West Germany. Despite the Derge regime’s dislike to Western institutions, the Goethe-Institute was able to carry on with its cultural activities.
“Goethe other than its involvement with arts and culture has also contributed to education. It works very closely with Addis Ababa University and German Academic Exchange Service, an institution based in Germany that supports exchange of students between universities and scholarships. Since we started working with those institutions two years ago we have been able to send 30 students to Germany be it to pursue higher education or just a summer course,” said Ermias Gebreyes, Language Department head.
The institution that used to be located at Arat kilo when it first opened in 1962 moved to Sidest kilo area in 2005. The new location was previously the palace of Crown PrinceMerid Azmach Asfaw Wossen, and now Addis Ababa University’s Faculty of Business and Economics.
“We are very happy at our current location. It is filled with a lot of history,” stated Elke Kaschi.
Goethe’s 50th anniversary will be celebrated with programs ranging from classical music by the celebrated Delian-Quartett to a screening of a documentary about the Goethe-institute present and past, a sneak preview of a photo exhibition about architectural history of the “Goethe-buildings” and tunes of Ethio-German jazz, among others.