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Ethiopia: In Praise of Addis Ababa - A Rising City full of Contradictions



  09:10:07 pm, by admin, 2156 words  
Categories: Ethiopia

Ethiopia: In Praise of Addis Ababa - A Rising City full of Contradictions

Addis Ababa, Photo by El-Len Flickr

Ethiopia: In Praise of Addis Ababa - A Rising City full of Contradictions

By Teshome Abebe

I had the opportunity to visit Addis Abeba for about five weeks between June 21st and July 27. What follows is a report to those who read my occasional essays on Ethiopian affairs. In writing this essay, I make no charges that can’t be substantiated, no opinions are expressed that may be considered slanderous, and no praise is heaped that is either out of place or undeserved.

For those who do not know me, I am a professor by occupation but consider my self a romanticist by philosophy and inclination. As a result, I write these essays with the belief that while they may provide an insight into the potential for loss and/or difficulty; they may at the same time point out the path for potential gain to all.

What Is In A Name?

Call it ‘Finfine’, ‘Sheger’ or just simply and affectionately ‘Addis’, Addis Abeba is a city with hubris, faith, hope, chaos, vibrancy, order, and a great deal of skepticism. It resembles a giant construction site, dug up everywhere, with no one eager to clean up the mess. Yet, no one in their right mind is willing to abandon or disclaim it, no matter their troubles, so they embrace it—warts and all! Addis is like a magnificently written poem transforming its meaning with each line—one line an expression of joy and ecstasy, the next of anguish and frustration, the next of hope and progress, the next of achievement and success, the next of failure and decay, and the next of hopeful exuberance and joyful embrace. In short, Addis is a city of a mixture of brilliance, belligerence, plight as well as some wild excess.

Tangible Progress

To be sure, there are tangible signs of progress everywhere—in every Kebele, hamlet or district. The hustle and bustle of city life is maddening and ever present. Astonishingly, the serenity of low expectations is also evident everywhere, and is repeatedly captured in the phrase “chigir yelem” (no problem). It is ‘chigir yelem’ everywhere.

Addis is a city where ordinary citizens show a propensity for tolerating and enjoying each other while the culture of accountability among the charges of City Hall doesn’t seem to be evident. Like all big cities, Addis has also become a place where a brand new mediocrity is thought more of than accustomed excellence.

In the movie titled The Story of a Stage Coach, circa 1959, actress Debra Padget says, “our languages are different. I have learned yours. We are nonetheless the same. The same sun warms us, we look up at the same stars; we breathe the same air, but we claim separate identities; we all laugh and anguish; and we live on this earth and die to be buried in the same dust. And when one of us loses his will, we all lose our freedoms”.

Addis seems to have successfully taught its citizens that for every way of living, there is something to be given up. And their faith in their city is what helps them make a quantum leap between the unbelievable and the utterly ridiculous.

Why This Short Essay?

But then, why write this essay? It is very simple: because a person needs a purpose to make it through the day in this rising city of endless contradictions!

Imagine a beautiful Ethiopian woman walking down the street. She is wearing her most beautiful dress and very expensive shoes matched by an equally expensive purse. She is chatting on her cell phone (a sign of some degree of independence and sophistication here!) as she minds her way. Except that this fine picture is on a muddy street with puddles of mud and dirty water all over. Along comes some one in a vehicle splashing the whole ugly mess onto the pedestrians—including our hapless woman—who seem to regard this as simply a slight inconvenience!

This illustrative example is repeated daily, many times over, in the numerous neighborhoods of Addis Abeba. In an area of the city known as ‘Errer Goro’, we observed in December 2011, an excavator digging up huge craters on the left side of the unpaved road, going north breaking off from the main asphalted road. I also observed an excavator digging up more craters on the right side of the same unpaved road during this trip. With both sides of the road out of service because of the gaping crater-like holes, men, women and school children have to share the narrow space available in the middle with cars and animals. I witnessed a middle-aged woman slip and fall as she dogged an errant driver. Surely, you would think that there is a project management team within the charges of City Hall if not within the Kebele itself! What is even more baffling about these stories is the endless alibis provided by officials for nonperformance. You hear contractors blaming city officials, who in turn blame government officials, who in turn blame every one else and everything else.

In December 2011. I observed a sizeable hole in the middle of the main paved road near the first exchange on the way out of town to ‘Akaki’. That sizeable hole has gotten even bigger today, and no one seems to mind that there is a major incident waiting to happen at that spot. Oh, yes, I know. The official line is that they are busy with other development priorities!

It would be silly to comment on the nature of driving and drivers in Addis. Suffice it to say that there is absolute disregard for traffic laws and regulations. From the errant drivers (referred to derisively by the locals as ‘listro-drivers’ who have allegedly purchased their driving documents) to the road-unworthy and excessively ridden things on four wheels, driving in Addis is very unhealthy, unsafe, and not worth it for any one visiting from outside of the country. Interestingly and amazingly, aside from the usual big city fender-benders, there are relatively few major accidents in the city itself.

There are tangible, unmistakable and clear signs that Addis is changing and has changed into a major modern metropolis. There are many new and modern buildings all over the city with the Bole Road area and the area behind the ECA facilities as the most built up sections of town. As a matter of fact, these two areas look like any modern and big city in Europe or America. There are numerous roads and arteries that have been built in the city. The most visible of these is the ring road (a misnomer, in my opinion, as it really is not a ring road in the ordinary sense, and as the city has outgrown it already). Some of the roads have buckled under the weight of heavy traffic, and the rest, as a result of poor construction and design. Most of the new roads do not even have drainage, and when it rains, some city roads become impassable or extremely dangerous.

What is truly noteworthy and of practical significance, however, is the behavior and manner of interaction of homeowners of the city with one another. The official line regarding the ownership of land is that all land belongs to the government. The ruling party came to this conclusion, in part, after having observed that there was excessive speculation on property in the form of real estate. What is truly fascinating, however, is the behavior of property owners in the Kebeles (neighborhoods). People are agitating, fighting and causing a ruckus with their neighbors over inches of land. It is fascinating to note that people still consider ownership of land as the most prized possession in spite of the decree that made all land the property of the state.

The City of Addis has been aggressive in resettling those who have been asked to move out of their dwellings so that the city can move forward with its ambitious plan to modernize. There have been countless condominiums of varying qualities and scope that have been built all over the city. People have to register, and there are long waiting lists to acquire any of the 10/90%, 20/80% or 40/60% condominiums. The ever-expanding need for housing will continue to challenge the city for years to come as there are large numbers of people moving from the rural areas into the city. These are people who used to make their living from the land (with some degree of strength, fortitude and some amount of pride), but now have to cope with the challenges of city living where one lives by one’s wits, not by chance. The primary employment of the mostly youth who migrate into the city is as day laborers (now, as cobble stone workers). This obviates the enormous challenges that the city will have to face in future years.

Challenges and Opportunities

As the capital of Africa, Addis faces many challenges and should anticipate clear opportunities. Of the obvious challenges is the failure to faithfully and honestly implement its own master plan. Having had mixed success with its past master plan, the city has embarked on another master planning process which is expected to culminate in an agreed upon plan for the city within the next eight months. A master plan for a major city like Addis should be viewed like a constitution of a country. A constitution gets tested and challenged by the citizens but must always be true to both the spirit as well as the letter of its intent. A master plan that gets amended or ignored when a powerful person makes a phone call, or successfully lobbies a government official in a position to alter it, is not a master plan—it is only a statement of intent or just simply a gesture. Master plans don’t get pushed around with a little bit of the right kind of wind. There appears to be a disconnect between planning and implementation. In all matters of substance, there is a point where you either grow or rot, and I believe that Addis has decided to grow into the modern city that it deserves to be, and that, undoubtedly, requires first-rate leadership at every level.

Of the opportunities available to the city include the enormous potential for conference tourism. As I pointed out in an earlier essay titled “Factors of Change and Transformation in Ethiopia”,

Addis Ababa is emerging as the conference capital for Africans, and many international organizations. This is partly due to the fact that there are some highly respected international organizations located in Addis, such as the Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union, the IGAD Secretariat and others like it, many embassies and associated staff as well as country representatives to the African Union, just to name a few. Cursory evidence shows that there have been several international meetings that have been held in Addis or are to be held there in the near future. This augurs well for the city and the country. It speaks highly of the confidence conference planners have in the security and comfort the city can provide; it speaks highly of the ever-hospitable residents of Addis; it speaks highly of the appeal of the city; the improving transport system; and even more importantly, it speaks very highly of the ever-changing Ethiopian Air Lines and the services it offers.

Despite the fact that Ethiopia has not been able to ramp up its abilities to attract tourists similar to Kenya and Tanzania or even South Africa, the opportunity to market Addis as an international conference center provides immense opportunities to develop both types of tourism in the near future. Those in positions of authority, both at the city as well as the federal level, ought to formulate a plan as well as a sustained drive to make this a reality. There are comparative advantages Addis may enjoy in this regard relative to other cities in Africa.

Let me then end this essay exactly where I began. As a freshman in high school, I used my Saturdays to teach prisoners at ‘Kerchele’ prison (‘Alem Bekagne’). A Peace Corp teacher of mine would pick me up near what was then 5th police station ‘Amestegna’, and drop me off at the gates of the prison so that I could do my volunteer work. Today, where ‘Alem Bekagne’ used to be stands a magnificent edifice – a gift of the Chinese government to the people of Africa—the African Union building. It is a testament to the faith of the citizens and a witness to the renewal that is underway. No other building in the entire city displays the architectural authenticity befitting a rising metropolis. Addis has always been a city of a mixture of the appealing and then the untidy. A city of contradictions, joyfully embraced by its resilient and hopeful citizens!

Dr. Teshome Abebe is Professor of Economics, and resides in the United States. He may be reached at


Comment from: Kena Keb [Visitor]
Kena Keb

Professor Teshome’s eye balls are viewing and looking at Addis very similar like what an American tourist, journalist or an European first time visitor would do. It seems that he had lived in Addis when it was not like what it is now so the unappealing and unattractive scenes he describes in this article should not be totally knew to his eyes.
The America he resides in now was not created by magical incantations. Years of bloody wars were fought, millions of African slaves poured their sweats and blood building railway lines and infrastructures. There was poverty in the US too(still existing incidenatlly!).Europeans had to go through at least two big world wars and through epidemics of plagues, cholera and extreme povery to make the Europe of today. Asia was profiled as a hub where poverty and misery was extreme.
Similarly Ethiopia was left with no economical structure worth the name when the fascist Derg left the whole country in shambles to the prestent day government.
If “romanticist philosophy” fails to realize the brick by brick building of Addis and Ethiopia as a whole to make Ethiopia as one of the fastest growing economies in the world Professor Teshome may have to work harder to talk about the real Ethiopia and not about a “fairy tale” kind of Ethiopia(in this case Addis)he wants to see. Addis will have potholes on its roads for some years to come until it rids itself from poverty which it is fighting against.
Who was that said “Rome was not built in one day"? This goes true for Addis too. The “Americanized” eye balls may need to be “Ethiopianized” to view the everyday realities of Addis.

Ethiopia is prospering and shall continue to prosper!

08/04/13 @ 00:14
Comment from: Ayalew [Visitor]

Thank you Professor.
Well balanced and very constructive enlightenment!
I must add that we have some professors that can teach and demonstrate the bad from the good unlike the old professor Alemariam.

Please keep it up and give us more lessons about ourselves.


08/04/13 @ 00:32
Comment from: C',,est moi senait [Visitor]
C',,est moi senait

Littering in Addis is reaching critical levels these days. Although the Provisional City Administration is doing a lot to have piled up garbage removed, still the volume of litter accumulated in certain parts of the City can not be defensible.
It is ironic that there are many among African countries that despite similar problems of economy and policies with ours, have managed to keep their cities and towns tidy. Perhaps we should learn from them.
In Addis the size of the population size threatens to swallow every improvement into nothingness. If you have 20-30 per cent of the citizens with not even a semblance of toilet facilities, how can you prevent parts of the city from becoming an open-air toilet?

The so called city authority are nothing but a bunch of KUUTTAARAMS WITH NO BRAIN . Their building stink like shit. NOt to mention that weyannes parliament with full of bacteria , air born disease.
Why it so had to build a puplic toilet? You visit any restaurant there you have a worst toilet like A Ruwanda prison camp. They eat and shite with no personal HYGIN . And those city drivers with no traffic rule looks like a Bombay taxi drivers with all sorts of loud music. It would be better if we go back to DONKEY transport service . At least, they know where they are heading with no sound.
The city gimmatam authority should be sent to some scandanavian countries to learn how tidy their city is. What can we expect from weyannes DeDeb beggars authority ?

08/04/13 @ 00:52
Comment from: Maush [Visitor]

Addis is the capital of Africa, so it shall remain! Great piece!

08/04/13 @ 01:48
Comment from: Seattle [Visitor]

The writer seems to be tiptoeing not to anger the ruling elites.

Addis Ababa is not only Bole, ECA, and AU areas. What about the rest of the city? The poor neighborhoods where the majority lives? How are they coping with inflation, transportation, fluctuations in food prices, sudden evictions with little or no compensation, unemployment, etc…?
Of course writing about politics is a taboo here…
He said “No opinions are expressed that may be considered slanderous,” by whom?
You article is no better than what the pro government local newspapers and magazines writes. At one point I thought I am reading the Reporter or Addis Fortune…

08/04/13 @ 01:53
Comment from: mlugeta taye [Visitor]
mlugeta taye

Very interesting article and remarkabel comments based on facts and stories.

Thanks for your time DOC.

08/04/13 @ 02:40
Comment from: ... [Visitor]

This city used to be more beautiful and BIGGER than Dubia in the late 60s and early 70s. It’s time to rise up and take them over! God bless Ethiopia

08/04/13 @ 03:24
Comment from: TEDDY [Visitor]

Addis is not really a flowerushing new city ,the likes as the Agazi Bandits with their Banda clerks are trying to paint .But still a city of despare and misery where the majority of the inhabitants are starving .The likes of the then Culcutta with the “City Of Joy” or the Flavellas .Which risks to become soon the next Lagos .

08/04/13 @ 05:20
Comment from: lili getu [Visitor]
lili getu

@ teshome abebe tallest building is great to have as an ethiopiawi I’m proud and happy ..
now why you never talk about clear woyane brutal regime that control by power all seat and pass everything with out NO opposition it that ok
ist of all with out freedom there is nothing that accomplished majority Ethiopians have no justice either they get killed or locked up in jail . coz of freedom you need to look deep in side the majority Ethiopians daily life that be come lottery
from your stand point we learn that. we know you see everything what we mention here now. but you don’t want to talk about that . it’s ok your opinion is just single comment . that never change any thing of course all Ethiopian enemy gives you thump’s up .
we love our country progress but as you know we Ethiopians don’t care to tall building as I mention we need more than any thing our freedom ..

08/04/13 @ 05:46
Comment from: Assta B. Gettu [Visitor]
Assta B. Gettu

Dr. Teshome Abebe has revealed the dark side of the city of Addis Ababa in detail and without flattery!

The author of this remarkable article is showing me Addis Ababa is a city where “no one [is] eager to clean up the mess.” This means, according to the author’s view, Addis Ababa is a dirty city, a city where irresponsible citizens live – citizens who have failed to pick up their trashes and don’t care about the neatness of their city.

Next to the untidiness of Addis Ababa comes that Addis Ababa “…has also become a place where a brand new mediocrity is thought more of than accustomed excellence” says Dr. Abebe, but he has not clearly defined what “new mediocrity” is, and what “accustomed excellence” is. Is he telling me both mediocrity and excellence can easily be observed in Addis Ababa of today rather than in the Addis Ababa of yesterday?

The dirtiness of Addis Ababa cannot be clearer than the author’s vivid description of a charming Ethiopian woman in a beautiful dress, costly shoe, high-priced purse in her hand ambling gracefully on the muddy street of Addis Ababa, a street covered with mud, and stagnant water, and conversing on her cell phone with someone, but her attractive dress becomes a mess because of the splashing muddy water disturbed by a careless driver.

Not only the stagnant water and the rudeness of the drivers of vehicles that may offend some pedestrians like the beautiful and well-dressed Ethiopian girl but also as the author points out the absence of a traffic law in the city of Addis Ababa can be another headache for any one who drives or walks on the streets of Addis Ababa: “It would be silly to comment on the nature of driving and drivers in Addis. Suffice it to say that there is absolute disregard for traffic laws and regulations.”
Any foreigner who has read this article may think twice before planning to come and visit Addis Ababa. This article gives him or her gloomy pictures of Addis Ababa, especially the following statement in the article: “Most of the new roads do not even have drainage, and when it rains, some city roads become impassable or extremely dangerous.”
Generally, Dr. Abebe’s well-written article tells me Addis Ababa that I have been admiring as the city of fresh air, law and order, natural beauty and modernity is now a city of chaos when I read the following statement: “You hear contractors blaming city officials, who in turn blame government officials, who in turn blame every one else and everything else.” In the same way, I am sure that beautify lady was also blaming those careless vehicle drivers for purposely splashing dirty water on her neat dress, neat shoe, and neat purse. She might have spent a considerable amount of time to show up in that lovely dress of her, but suddenly her effort to expose her femininity to the world in her attractive dress turned into disappointment.
The ugliness of Addis Ababa is not just confined to the sewages, to the dirty water, to the absence of a traffic law, and to the carelessness of some of the drivers, but it goes beyond that and includes “property owners” as Dr. Abebe states: “What is truly fascinating, however, is the behavior of property owners in the Kebeles (neighborhoods). People are agitating, fighting and causing a ruckus with their neighbors over inches of land.”
Even though Dr. Abebe did not hide the progress that has been achieved so far in Addis Ababa when he writes: “To be sure, there are tangible signs of progress everywhere—in every Kebele, hamlet or district,” the following statement of his defeats his sanguine views about Addis Ababa: “There appears to be a disconnect between planning and implementation.”

I am afraid the disconnection may not be just between the planners and the implementers of the plan. It may be between the governors and the governed, and between the seculars and the religious leaders. Indeed, there will be no real progress until there is harmony, peace, law and justice throughout the country.

08/04/13 @ 06:11
Comment from: Assta B. Gettu [Visitor]
Assta B. Gettu

Correction:beautiful,not beautify

08/04/13 @ 06:30
Comment from: Kebede Woldu [Visitor]
Kebede Woldu

He has done it again. A truthful and entertaining article that captures the mood of the country. This guy feels what I am thinking. What all of us are thinking. I look forward to your next essay. Thank you Sir.

08/04/13 @ 07:14
Comment from: Konjit [Visitor]

Only the really stupid fail to see the beauty of this extraordinary article. Wow! Yetemare yigdelegne.

What is next, Dear Professor?

08/04/13 @ 11:02
Comment from: Kassa [Visitor]

Thank You. Good Essay. Keep them comming

08/04/13 @ 11:52
Comment from: Bini [Visitor]

We don’t wanna hear about construction and changes we wanna hear all the bad things r he dictator woyane is doing to Ethiopia…Mr. professor you must be a paid woyane agent to write good things about our colonized country Ethiopia because we all know there is no hope, happiness, piece until we send back woyane back to tigray

08/04/13 @ 13:46
Comment from: Assta B. Gettu [Visitor]
Assta B. Gettu

I can see how the author of this magnificent article is straggling what to leave out and what to record in as he is attempting to chronicle the entire views of the city of Addis Ababa into his succinct and yet very informative, compendious, and scintillating essay.

The struggle starts with the name of the city per se: the author demonstrates he has a problem whether the genuine name of the city is “Finfinne, Sheger” or Addis Ababa, but it seems that he is finally satisfied with the name Addis Ababa. He knows the name “Finfinne” is a controversial name, a name the extinct OLF had been claiming for over 30 years as the proper name of the city of Addis Ababa; therefore, why does Dr. Abebe bring such a divisive issue again while the name Addis Ababa has been nationally and internationally well recognized as the official name? Is he reminding the few remnant of the OLF that Finfinne is still the rightful name of the city of Addis Ababa?

It is very hard to know, at this time, what the author of the article is thinking about when he wrote: “What Is In A Name?” Can you, Dr. Abebe tell me what is in a name of Finfinne and in a name of Addis Ababa? Yes, in a name of Addis Ababa, one can find what you have partially described in your article, but what can one find in a name of Finfinne: paganism, barbarism, backwardness, heathenism, or what else?

The author gets very excited as soon as he looks at the imposing and high-rise-buildings of Addis Ababa; at the same time his admiration for those specious and luxuriant apartments immediately changes into frustration when he confronts in front of those high rising buildings with a mount of uncollected garbage whose overwhelming unpleasant odor permeating every nearby homes and attracting millions of flies, and a number of abandoned and hungry dogs, cats, and other diurnal and nocturnal animals.

Dr. Abebe may have been also amazed by the high traffic volumes and then saddened when he instantly observes the multiplicity of street beggars stretching out their hands toward a well dressed citizens of Addis Ababa especially toward some Caucasians for some handouts. There in the city of minor car accidents, he finds anger, agitation, and fighting among the dwellers of Addis. Of course, there may be anger and agitation among the street beggars for a penny, among the pedestrians for a space or a path, among the sellers for higher prices, among the buyers for a lower prices, among the police officers for not catching the criminals, among the taxi drivers for a customer, and among the Muslims for a religious freedom and there is no end for such angers, frustrations, and agitations in the city of Addis Ababa, perhaps, in the entire country.

The article has left out the shortages of clean water, electricity, the scarcities of some commodities, such as cocking oil, sugar for energy, and bread for sustenance, in the city of Addis Ababa. Or does the article tell us the long line of our beautiful girls to be sold out to the Arabs to be slaves and then to be killed or kill themselves because of their unbearable conditions in the Arab-Muslim world.

The author has completely forgotten to inform us the ugliness of hunger that has been harrowing, humiliating, and disgracing a number of young boys and young girls who have turned themselves into prostitution in order to put their daily bread on the table. In this case, Addis Ababa is for all and all are for Addis Ababa, and it is true, as the author said, Addis Ababa is “A rising city full of contradictions.”

Dr. Abebe has shown us a beautiful, well-dressed, sexy, and seductive Ethiopian girl as a symbol that represents the prosperities, power, beauty, and fame of the city of Addis Ababa; on the other hand, he has failed to show us a girl, haggard, hungry, dirty, and in a tattered clothe as a symbol of the other side of Addis Ababa. Why is that? Couldn’t he find such a girl also exists in Addis Ababa? Or is he simply covering up the other unfairness of the leadership of the Ethiopian government toward some of its citizens? I need some responses to hear from the author of this cultivating and inspiring article.

08/04/13 @ 14:07
Comment from: Messay Kasa [Visitor]
Messay Kasa

A brilliant man and thinker who expresses himself with supreme ability and confidence. A Professor indeed. Please write more. We love reading you, and you are a great example to our youth.

08/04/13 @ 15:13
Comment from: Gragn Ahmed [Visitor]
Gragn Ahmed

These days a lot of professors are writing unanimously. What does this show other than that they are living gluttons who admire the size of their belly and how fast it is growing.

Before I give credit to this article, why is that the professor never reveals himself and chooses to write in the most ghetto tabloid of the news online ever?
How can he forget the daily lack of freedom of worship and the soul of the city? What is behind these high scrapers, how much corruption went into it and how much abuse and drug trafficking and gay and clubbing and open sex is going on in this bastard city of Wayane? This professor is a hypocrite. He is very reclusive yet spreads hate.

08/04/13 @ 18:49
Comment from: Zeab [Visitor]

One of the possible solutions may be to establish at least four Addis Abebas shirking the present one. One in Harer, one in Oromia, one in Amara and one in Tigray. People have been migrating to the capital from all over the country and consequently suffocating the city. I fear Addis has become messy beyond repair. I believe the government should come up with new possibilities and solutions to enable people move out of Adiss. Start and encourage some big factories and companies to move to other regions and businesses and people will follow.

08/04/13 @ 19:13
Comment from: Ali Roble [Visitor]
Ali Roble

The writer side stepped knowingly or unknowingly few important points or facts likewise the history of the city and population numbers/ growth rate etc. Of course, you could argue that one get such info from the net and government websites. But it not- brainer for anyone trying to about the topic.

For Ass B. Gettu

Did you realize that your comment is longer than the writer;s own comments? It has no substance but just wordy English and redundancy. Who is gonna wast his time in reading all this this garbage.

08/04/13 @ 21:01
Comment from: Surafel [Visitor]

Nice article. Many interestings comments.


I woke up to a cloudy day in Detroit
In the middle of July
Dark and rainy
I looked up to the sky

Why today ?
Why now ?

I thought of you, Addis
Running up and down the hills
Mud and grass
The theatre, the coffee shops
The blue sky, the sunny days

I miss you Addis

08/04/13 @ 22:15
Comment from: zemzem [Visitor]

The Guy is really a romantic phlosopher. To any body who is willing to read each paragraph carefully there is a wealth of information he wanted to share what he had observed in his brief stay. For example read about ” the Listro driver” He talks a volume and understandable by any Ethiopian what a streening wheel means in one of Ethiopian official language. Those Guys who are supposed to give safe and sound ride to their customres are not cridable and trusthworthy even themselves are at the mercy of circumstances.What more do you want him to tell you?

08/04/13 @ 23:25
Comment from: amhara [Visitor]

Thank you Professor. I enjoyed reading your article. It was factual, balanced and to the point. I can personally attest to some of the facts you described in the article. We need more brilliant mind like yours to transform this great nation of ours.

08/04/13 @ 23:36
Comment from: Assta B. Gettu [Visitor]
Assta B. Gettu

Ali Roble (visitor),

The reality is you have not read the author’s article thoroughly as your pedestrian comment evinces your shortcomings of understanding such a sophisticated article that hinders you from going some extra miles and contrive your own way of comprehending a lengthy or short essay or comment.

The article, as I understand it, is not written at the third grade level: it is an article from a highly educated person for those who have mastered the English vocabulary, the English reading skill, and the English syntax. It is not, by any means, written for people like you who write: “But it not- brainer for anyone trying to about the topic.” Had you learned the English language properly when you were at school, it could have saved you from writing a fragmented sentence.

Solution for your problem: Don’t read my protracted comment; you should go to some of the other comments posted at your level and enjoy reading them. You must not waste your precious time in figuring out what my comment is all about and by going now and then to the dictionary to find out the exact meanings of the technical words I may have used in my comment.

08/04/13 @ 23:55
Comment from: Gelila [Visitor]

It is simply brilliant. A beautiful expression of what the professor saw and heard. Too bad most don’t understand his highly sophisticated and precise use of the English language. Please write more, Sir.

08/05/13 @ 02:02
Comment from: alex [Visitor]

what exactly are you smoking?
Everything has been said by Kena Keb in response to the professors account of a vacation as a wanna be tourist to his own country. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it wasn’t built by magic!

08/05/13 @ 03:21
Comment from: Endale Tefera [Visitor]
Endale Tefera

Ethiopians need food,hospitals,schools,job, etc, more than 99 % ethiopians live under poverty. A few people got richer, but most of Ethiopian people can’t afford to buy every days needs to their life. All of these buildings belongs to few hodam animals.

08/05/13 @ 04:29
Comment from: Me... [Visitor]

I am a reporter, and think that the author wrote a beautiful article using a beautiful style and on a topic of his choice. Those of you who say that he did not do this, did not do that, etc. ought to try writing yourself. See how stupid you would sound as most of you don’t even know how to spell. Is it an Ethiopian trait not to honor the best among you, and indeed among the world?

08/05/13 @ 08:43
Comment from: S, Kebede Haile [Visitor]
S, Kebede Haile

You have written what you have observed and practical seen. I think it gives a glimpse of just the serenity of addis for those who have never visited after they came to the US. But your opinion brought you gifts of criticism simply your way of writing is not politically injected but the facts. What the Diaspora (certainly not all) need is to see/read pure political opinion nothing else. Otherwise your writing is ridiculed and condemned. If it is written the way the politician wanted, you would have been crowned. Dr. Teshome, if want your writing is to be appreciated/accepted, either you have to be a member /an associate of the Ethiopian “political lab”: first attack the Ethiopian leaders in a strong term followed by your opinion you want to express. That is why many Ethiopians don’t want to writing what they want to share their intellectual thinking to educate one another. For now, they ‘e bystanders. Having said this, I will leave the following personal questions to you. How can we learn each other unless we share our opinion in civilized way? And, where is the freedom of expression we are talking about? Any way, we don’t believe in that way Brother. Over all, well said!

08/05/13 @ 10:43
Comment from: Kiros [Visitor]

Addis Ababa is Ethiopia’s Keet.

08/05/13 @ 16:02
Comment from: Kirosmn [Visitor]

@Surafel,Detroit and Addis. Yow didn’t move at all. You are leaving in the same corrupt, smelly, and unorganized town.

08/05/13 @ 16:06
Comment from: Dej.-Balcha-Aba-Safo [Visitor]

I’ve never positively appreciated the city of Addis Abeba.

It is a dirty & trash city – a city of the decadent citizens who simply prey on the fruits of the hard working majority farmers outside of it in the regions! The city residents are rootless, cultureless, insecure & greedy who are addicted to Palavar, Ashmur, hearsay, gossip, Alubualta, Teret-teret talkatives, lazy, cheaters, liars, dormant, coward, prideless dwellers who give high value to incessantly defaming the “Amharic"-accent of the vast majority of Ethiopians those living outside of Addis who happen to have their own Proud indigenous mother tongue other than Amharic, acting as if these bastardized descendants of Addis are the authentic bearers of genuine Ethiopian identity crystalized in & around parasitic Addis … etc …

EPRDF & the Gov’t must undercut this useless city and actively promote the culturally Proud & potentially rich regional princes by transforming them into vibrant & dynamic regional hubs on par with Addi by networking them directly (while avoiding corrupt Addis!) with the capitals and major cities of East Africa.

Connect & Network direct our Awassa & ArbaMinch, Semera & Jijiga, Mekkelle & Humera, BahirDar, Kombolcha, Gambela & Assossa, Jimma to/with Djibouti, Nairobi, Khartoum, Mombasa, Kampala, Mogadishu, Hargeisa, Juba & Dar-es-Salam…

08/05/13 @ 18:58
Comment from: Ethiopiawinet [Visitor]


Yes we praise Finfini (oops- Addis Ababa) for your sake. Addis Ababa is hard to pronouce it. Better Finfini.

Why nazret hate to report about Ethiopian Muslims sufferings?

Just a couple days ago ECADF, Eth review, Onislam, foreign TVs, etc reported about Genocide in Totolamo village, Ethiopia on peaceful Ethiopian (Oromo) Muslims.

I know why? This site belongs only to haters, islamophobics like Assta & Co. who now got pleasure out of this genocide.
I am sure he will elaporate on how to spill more innocent Ethiopian Muslims blood.
He is ‘ado kabirie’ who drinks animal blood. This is his wizard religion unheard in this world may be in his dream planet.

Proceed with unEthiopianwinet which helps accelarate the crack of this country.
My Ethiopiawinet was different but I might give up on this in the future.

08/05/13 @ 19:57
Comment from: abchahu [Visitor]

Skilled writer, trying to portray as much as he can possibly do. Even aigaforum dared to post it.

My dear friend Assta

This time you are at your best, your two comments at the top are much worth a front page of critical analysis on the Dr’s piece.


08/05/13 @ 22:21
Comment from: Assta B. Gettu [Visitor]
Assta B. Gettu

I would like to discuss about ‘chigir yelem’ Dr. Teshome Abebe mentioned in the article.

In his “In Praise of Addis Ababa,” the romantic writer Dr. Teshome Abebe has briefly and eloquently explained to us the beauty and the ugliness, the progress and the backwardness, the ruin and the restoration, the decay and the rise of Addis Ababa, and the sanguineness and the hopelessness, the pride and the shame of its citizens who accept the presence and the absence of chigir.

His article is a master key that unlocks all the doors of the city of Addis Ababa and exposes what is in that city and what is in the hearts of its citizens: beauty, ugliness, backwardness, ruin, restoration, decay, and rise are visible in the city while optimism, hopelessness, pride, shame, the presence and the absence of chigir are invisible to be observed with the naked eyes but they are still there in the hearts of most of the Ethiopian citizens, Muslims or Christians, Jews or gentiles.

However invisible and however shrouded this chigir (problem) is in the hearts of the citizens of Addis Ababa, a good writer like Dr. Teshome Abebe can easily descry and expose the cryptic chigir to the civilized world and find some solutions to the problem of the citizens of Addis Ababa.

One can easily detect what garbage is by its offensive smell, and what honey is by its sweet taste, but it is very hard to identify what chigir is in the heart of a proud Ethiopian. Especially if the person is from an Amhara tribe, it is difficult to hear from the mouth of an Amhara person that he has no food in his home, that he is poor, and that he is a beggar. He always hides his chigir; he doesn’t want someone to know that he is starved to death. That vain glory of the Amhara people may have changed now with modern education. I would like someone or Dr. Abebe, the author of this article, to come forward and tell me if that is so!

Off course, one can say that it is easy to identify a person with chigir by looking at his sunken eyes, disheveled hair, tattered or unkempt clothes, depressed voice, facial expression, and skinny body, but the truth is how many people get help by simply showing their dejected faces unless they talk they have chigir and that they need help.
Whether it is from the mouth of an Amhara tribe or from the mouth of an Oromo tribe or a Tegaru tribe or from the mouth of any other Ethiopian tribe, the distinguished writer, Dr. Teshome Abebe, has captured the common expression I used to say when I was in Ethiopia few years ago; he writes: “Astonishingly, the serenity of low expectations is also evident everywhere, and is repeatedly captured in the phrase “chigir yelem” (no problem). It is ‘chigir yelem’ everywhere.”

I have said many times the Amhara culture, whether it is good or bad, is everywhere in the Ethiopian society, and this common phrase, ‘chigir yelem,’ is one of the gentle Amhara cultures, and it is this culture that has enabled the present and the past undemocratic Ethiopian rulers to govern the Ethiopian people harshly as they wish, to extract billions of money unfairly from their subjects and to take or nationalize the people’s properties. And when, by chance, the authorities go out and ask the common people if they have any problem, the response they get from the humble and subdued Ethiopian people is always “chigir yelem’ (no problem).

The language of the silent majorities of the Ethiopian people is ‘chigir yelem,’ and ‘chigir yelem’ is the enemy of our people but the best friend of the Ethiopian regimes.

When there was a big famine in Ethiopia, when Mengistu Haile Mariam came to power and started terrorizing his own people, when Meles Zenawi became a supreme dictator, and when Haile Mariam Desalegn followed the footsteps of Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian people have been still saying ‘chigir yelem’; therefore, it is not the great famine that tormented the Ethiopian people; it is not Mengistu Haile Mariam, who terrorized the Ethiopian people; it is not Meles Zenawi who oppressed the Ethiopians, it is the ‘chigir yelem’ culture that tormented, terrorized, and oppressed the people of Ethiopia.

Dr. Teshome Kebede “…observed a sizeable hole in the middle of the main paved road near the first exchange on the way out of town to ‘Akaki’. To me, this big and black-hole-like hole is nothing else but one of the Ethiopian cultures – ‘chigir yelem.’ This ‘chigir yelem’ hole is not just on the way to “Akaki;’ it is all the way to east, west, north, and south of the country. As the author of the article says: “That sizeable hole has gotten even bigger today, and no one seems to mind that there is a major incident waiting to happen at that spot. Oh, yes, I know. The official line is that they are busy with other development priorities!”
Yes, the Ethiopian ‘chigir yelem’ culture is, like the big hole, getting bigger and bigger and many people, old men, women, and school children, are going to fall into that big hole, and no one is taking care of this big hall – the ‘chigir yelem’ culture, as this hole widens every single day, the city officials don’t mind about the size of this big hole, because they are busy running after their own interests.
If the movement of thousands of Ethiopians from the rural areas to the city of Addis Ababa is to escape from the ‘chigir yelem’ culture, then it is a good progress; on the other hand, if they are running from the countryside and coming to the city simply for housing, as Dr. Abebe describes, then such a movement is a very risky one for all the escapees from the bondage of the cruel life in the rural areas.

08/06/13 @ 01:11
Comment from: Assta B. Gettu [Visitor]
Assta B. Gettu

Mr. abchahu (visitor),

I am glad to hear from you with your good news that is positive to my two comments on Dr. Teshome Kebede’s matchless article. I hope you will enjoy reading my third comment on the same article. This time, I have commented about “chigir yelem.” Please, read it and comment on it!

Thank you for the compliment!

08/06/13 @ 01:43
Comment from: Assta B. Gettu [Visitor]
Assta B. Gettu

Ethiopiawi-nut (visitor),

For you, Ethiopiawi-nut, any person who legitimately criticizes Islam is a homophobic: Is Islam free of criticism? Is Muhammad free of criticism? Is Quran free of criticism? Are those Jihadist Muslims free of criticism? As far as you are living in the United States, using the United States facilities, driving a car, the product of western civilization, and using the Internet invented by the western scientists, you, your religion, your Quran, your prophet Muhammad, his child-wife Aisha, and your Allah will never be immune from criticism unless you go back to Saudi Arabia and worship the Saudi king, as he is the protector of the holy city of Mecca and the Black Stone in Mecca.

In anger, you stated: “This site belongs only to haters, islamophobics like Assta & Co. who now got pleasure out of this genocide.
“I am sure he will elaporate on how to spill more innocent Ethiopian Muslims blood.
He is ‘ado kabirie’ who drinks animal blood.”

The only time I get the real pleasure is when I see all Jihadist Muslims are completely wiped out from this planet earth, and the 1.5 billion Muslims are getting free from the bondage of Islam and living in peace with the rest of the civilized people of the world.

Don’t you think it is better to drink animal blood than camel urine: there are still some people who drink animal blood in Africa, but never camel urine except the Arab-Muslim nations as the prophet Muhammad had prescribed in his medical and spiritual book – the Quran?

If you give up your Ethiopiawi-nut because has refused to post the names of some criminal Jihadist Muslims on this website, you can still use your other screen names – Seattle the cattle and Gragn Ahmed Enkirdad. You have never been short of screen names, but you lack good and real names. You must work hard and earn a name that never be easily forgotten. Of course, if you contribute about half a million dollars for the Renaissance Dam, your name will be recorded in the book of those who donated their money for that great project of ours. Or if you promise us that you are not going to sabotage the Dam, then your screen name Ethiopiawi-nut, will become Ethiopiawinet, never Ethiopiawi-nut!

08/06/13 @ 02:28
Comment from: Per [Visitor]

Assta B. Gettu,
You are an arrogant show-off man(woman)trying to appear all knowing and religious. But you are what those religious acting morons are called hypocrite who preach some thing but does something else.
I can’t see any kind of sophistication you are going on about in the Author’s article while you are slandering Ali Roble. The author just put partially how Addis Ababa(Finfine or Shagar)is by carefully( cowardly) threading trying not to offend some( clearly he could have said the government or Woyanes). So I don’t see the author as a magnificent writer when he could have said a spade - a spade. Addis Ababa is simply filthy city. That is it. Just look at the sanitation. Most of the residents don’t have toilets and those who have their toilets are disgrace. One only needs to look at the restaurant(hotel) toilets which are not far off where food is prepared with poor condition and stink all over the place. People defecating and urinating on the streets. Beggars all over places. He is clearly a half baked.
You are also no better than him. Just look at your posts like the first paragraph above full of errors and show-offs with obsolete English words which are not helpful for a reader to understand it easily and quickly. Please just use simple plain English no one cares about your gobbledygook.
You just remind me those abesha writers with lots of out dated confusing vocabulary and when it comes to speaking skills they can’t utter a single sentence.

08/06/13 @ 11:24
Comment from: Yemotebisbis [Visitor]

@Per or Ahmed Gragne or any of the other names you go by:

I am surprised that you could read anything else outside of the instructions on your foodstamp coupons. Is it your wife who is reading it for you? You are so illiterate that garden tools have higher IQs than you. Thanks to nazret dot com you are allowed to pretend you are a human being. Wasak, bisbis yegala lij. Happy Eid every one else!

08/08/13 @ 08:00
Comment from: Assta B. Gettu [Visitor]
Assta B. Gettu

Per aka Ali Roble (visitor),

Why are you trying to defend your weak points under a new screen name “Per”?

You complain you have a problem in understanding new English terms, and I have told you before that you must go to school and learn new words if you want to communicate with great writers such as Dr. Teshome Abebe. I have reminded you this article is not for you, a third grade student, and that is why you have difficulties in understanding the author’s view points about Addis Ababa. The author has never said Addis Ababa is a filthy city; it is you who said in your broken English: “Addis Ababa is simply filthy city.”

The heading of the author’s article, “In Praise of Addis Ababa – A Rising City full of Contradiction,” summarizes Dr. Abebeb’s view points about the city of Addis Ababa.

Out of your ignorance, you criticized him for not saying “a spade is a spade,” but such invalid criticism of yours tells me you have not completely read his article. When the author vividly said, “…muddy street with puddles of mud and dirty water all over,” he is saying “a spade is a spade.” And when he said, “There are tangible, unmistakable and clear signs that Addis is changing and has changed into a major modern metropolis,” he is also saying “a spade is a spade.”

The sophistication of the author of this article is beyond your poor comprehension of such well-written article. With your kind of English writing, you will never analyze a single sentence from this article even if you have read the article hundred times because your knowledge of English vocabulary is almost zero.

You begged me: “Please just use simple plain English….” This website is not for third graders of your type. I am not here to write sentences like these ones: “I saw a woman. She was running. She was pretty. She had long hair. She was crying. I know you like sentences of this kind; unfortunately, such sentences are for second or third grade students, and that is why I have asked you to go to school before you post a meaningless comment on this web site.

Any educated person, of course, not you, who comments on this website writes: “I saw a pretty woman, with long hair, running and crying.”

Go back to school, and don’t argue with me anymore! I don’t have enough time to teach you Standard English on this website.

08/08/13 @ 08:09



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