ADDIS ABABA, April 4 (Xinhua) — The Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia on Monday marked Qingming, a traditional Chinese festival to honor the ancestors, by paying homage to deceased Chinese doctor Mei Gengnian who was leading the first Chinese medical mission to the East African country some 40 years ago.
Mei Gengnian passed away in 1975 in a car accident while he was serving local communities in Jimma town of Oromia regional state.
The commemoration ceremony took place at the tomb of Mei Gengnian in Jimma about 380 km southwest of Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, in the presence of Chinese diplomats, officials of the local administration, members of the Chinese medical team and villagers, among others.
Speaking on the occasion, La Yifan, Chinese Ambassador to Ethiopia, said that the embassy marked Qinging, or tomb-sweeping day in Ethiopia’s Jimma in order to pay homage to Dr Mei Gengnian to commemorate his sacrifice while rendering dedicated medical service to Ethiopian communities.
By commemorating Qingming in Ethiopia, the embassy also celebrated the ever flourishing friendship between China and Ethiopia, said the ambassador.
“Today is the Qingming Festival. This is the day that the Chinese people pay homage to the ancestors; it is also a good time to pay homage to the martyrs who have contributed in their lives to the building up of the Chinese economy, and the Chinese nation; and also to those who have contributed to the friendship between the Chinese people and Africans,” said the Ambassador.
“And for that purpose, we are gathered here today to commemorate Dr Mei Gengnian who has sacrificed himself more than 40 years ago while leading the first medical team here in Ethiopia,” he said, adding “he is a role model for all of us to learn.”
According to the Chinese Ambassador, over the past 40 years, China has sent more than 10,000 medical professionals to 43 African countries.
The ambassador also commended the local community of the village, where Dr Mei Gengnian was laid to rest, for their continuous job of taking care of and keeping clean of the tomb of the deceased Chinese medical team leader.
Zewdie Haile has been taking care of and keeping the tomb area clean since more than five years back after she had taken over the responsibility from her father, and in return, the ambassador has handed over keys of a new home built by the Chinese to Zewdie.
Speaking at the commemoration ceremony, Zewdie said she was very happy for having the Chinese diplomats and the medical team visiting the tomb of Dr Mei Gengnian and marking the Day at the village.
After the commemoration ceremony, members of the 18th batch of the Chinese medical team to Ethiopia also provided free clinic services to the villagers.
Zhang Xiuyi, leader the Chinese Medical Team in Ethiopia, told Xinhua that his team was rendering free medical service to the local community in commemoration of Qingming, and paying homage to Dr Mei Gengnian.
Based at Tirunesh-Beijing Hospital in Ethiopia, the Chinese Medical Team has been serving the Ethiopian people which helps further strengthen the friendship between the two peoples and the two countries.
Qingming falls around April 5 each year. The Chinese traditionally honor their ancestors by sweeping their tombs on the day. The Chinese government made the day a public holiday in 2008 to preserve the tradition.