Updated: Feb 27
(Director of Music - Lt Col R W Hopla)
Following a request from the British Embassy in Addis Ababa to deliver musical support to assist the Ethiopian National Defence Force Band (ENDFB) in their undertaking of a Remembrance Day Service, I was honoured and delighted to be selected to take on this exciting training role.
The first morning following security briefings, meeting the Defence Attaché and being greeted by Embassy staff, I was given a ‘nature’ tour of the extensive grounds, which included the opportunity to introduce myself to some of the local wildlife:
From the Embassy, I undertook a recce of the Addis Ababa Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery (CWGC). The serene, tranquil setting of the CWGC contains 294 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, including that of Lt Col Frank Black, The Hampshire Regiment where I paid my respects to one our fallen brothers…
The afternoon began being introduced to the unit CO, DOM and the musicians of ENDFB….then it was time to make music! The Band has received regular support from The Corps of Army Music since 2007 and are experienced in playing for Remembrance. They were enthusiastic, keen to learn and went about their music-making with smiles and real positivity – which continued throughout the week as they prepared for their performance. There was even time to sample the wonderful taste of traditional Ethiopian coffee….
Far too quickly, Remembrance Sunday was soon upon us with all the hard work ENDFB had undertaken during the week, paying off. Their playing was first-class, with many people commenting on their professional performance – a job well done!
I left Ethiopia feeling very proud of collectively, all that we had musically achieved in a short time. It was a tremendous privilege to work alongside ENDFB, meet new musical comrades and to fly the TIGER flag!