In a special gesture, President Pranab Mukherjee was on Wednesday accorded honorary citizenship of Abidjan when he was given a key to Ivory Coast’s economic capital.
The honour is bestowed upon visiting Heads of States by symbolic conferment of citizenship and handing them with a key to the city.
Mukherjee also was given a traditional tribal name ‘Asito’ which means ‘example’ that should be followed by younger generations.
After the ceremony, the President became a member of “Committee of Wise Men” who advise on effective functioning of the administration of the city.
“I am deeply touched by your gesture of presenting to me a key of the city and conferring honorary citizenship on me. I am indeed very thankful to all for this honour bestowed upon me. I am very pleased to be henceforth an honorary citizen of the city of Abidjan,” he said.
India sees the city of Abidjan as a melting pot of diverse ethnicities and religions, President said adding that he was happy to see that Abidjan, after suffering extensive damage during the recent civil war, has regained its past splendour.
He said the tradition of making him a citizen reminds him of India’s age-old philosophy of “Vasudeva Kutumbakam”.
“These words in Sanskrit mean that mankind is one large family. I therefore accept the honorary citizenship bestowed by you in the name of the people of India - and as a valued symbol of the friendship of the people of Cote d’Ivoire,” he said.
Mukherjee was also handed over the traditional dress, a golden headgear, sandals, bracelet, a turquoise and yellow-coloured necklace and a golden coloured stick.
In the prelude to the event, the traditional drum playing and dance was also conducted by the tribals.