As the dust and smog lift in the late mornings in Addis Ababa, the vibrancy of the city cannot be taken for granted. With high rise buildings popping up like mushrooms, Addis Ababa has become a metropolis in its own right. As visitors, businessmen, Aid-workers and diplomats buzz around the streets in awe of the development of the city like it were on steroids, one tends to forget that Ethiopia’s countryside – which still is the backbone of the country – and is just as vibrant and busy in its own way.
Maybe not as many high rise buildings and fast mutations may be taking place. But the buzzing of people, merchants and transportation is still there for all to see and hear.
Living abroad – coming to Addis seems like you are traveling back in time and into the future at the same moment. Going to the countryside and visiting its cities, however, seems like time traveling a few years back. Back to a time which brings fond memories of how Addis used to be. Vibrant but no traffic jams. Filled with people but not hassles. As young kids grin and study this outsider visiting their city, you feel nostalgia in the air. Whether it is in Hawassa, which itself seems on steroids or smaller towns like Dilla in the south or Shoa Robit, North East of Addis.
One thing prevails in these cities away from the mega city and that is the culture and its laid back vibes. People having Bunna on the side of the road in mini-cafes. Listros (Shoe cleaners) buzzing around trying to attract the next customer. Nostalgia hits you and you think, “this is how Addis used to be” before you were awakened by a honking Bajaj that nearly hits you as it passes by, and just like that you are thrust back into reality.
What reality you may say? That in which the Ethiopia you grew up in is not the Ethiopia it is today. And that is for a good reason. It is changing. Aren’t we all somehow? Isn’t that the normal biology for us bound in time? And as we, people, change, so do our cities. And so does Ethiopia. I think that is why I love going to the kifele Hager – because it reminds me of how things were and how they are changing so rapidly.
So as a city boy – I get to enjoy my little bit of nostalgia in the countryside. I have to do it quickly though because the country is changing just as fast as Addis Ababa.