The former ambassador of Indonesia to Ethiopia and Djibouti, Ramli Saud, used reggae music as a way to build stronger ties with Ethiopia during his service there from 2011 to 2015.
“I read about a book on Ethiopia, and I found out there is a town called Shashamane which was one of the central Rastafarian areas in the world. I found out that it was also one of the places reggae music originated,” he said at the Foreign Ministry on Friday.
He then proceeded to contact Ras Muhammad, an Indonesian reggae artist, to come to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa in 2012 to perform.
Ramli said that hundreds of Ethiopian citizens attended the show, and were ecstatic to learn that reggae was popular in Indonesia.
“It’s a diplomatic strategy. I told the new ambassador that he needs to keep doing that, to introduce Indonesia through reggae,” he added.
According to Foreign Ministry data, Indonesia and Ethiopia began to develop close relations after the first Asian-African Conference in Bandung in 1955.
Ramli also stressed the importance of bilateral relation with the African country, whose trade with Indonesia has risen significantly from US$94.1 million in 2010 to $349.1 million in 2013.
The rise, he claimed, was partly due to the effort from the Foreign Affairs Ministry to form relations with the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce.
“They have almost 90 million citizen there, with 60 percent of domestic needs coming from imported goods. It’s a very good opportunity,” he said.