Photo Essay - Adisaba Taxi Stories 

MediaETHIOPIA - June 15, 2002


What is Addis Ababa without its taxis? The pulse of the city is not only in its cafes and markets but also its white-topped blue taxis - from the old Zenbil model, to ceccentos to Ladas and to wiyiyits. On a recent Saturday night outing (it wasn't Cinema Ethiopian shown on the right - rest assured), we were in a kind of fix on whether to take a Wiyiyit or the good old ordinary taxis (now called "contract taxis"). It was drizzling slightly and Addis was as always very quiet even at 8:00 PM. We were not in the mood of haggling with a "Weyala" on how much some would pay to be dropped at National Theatre and the rest at Bambis. So, we decided to take a "contract taxi". As an old Lada passed by; we didn't bother to stop it.....we wanted a newer looking cab. As a taxi driven by a 20 something old slowed down in our direction, we flagged him. In a moment that captured the post-ESLCE pre-scholarship days of most of us, we all seemed to steal a glance at the dash-board trying to figure out if it had a tape player (CD players are still hard to find even in the brand new ones). Assured that it had, three of us jumped in after negotiating the fair from the Arada center area to National Theatre and Bambis. 
For all three of us, the 10-12 minute trip down the Churchil road to National Theatre was a moment just like the cool days of 80's. For some reason, the 20 something driver was playing Aster Aweke's first album (who knows? he may not even have been born when it came out). No one talked until we reached Bherawi but were transported to a different era - to the by-gone days of Addis Abeba courtesy of Aster's songs. Even when two of us got down at Bambis after a stop-over at Bherawi, we were not in the mood of talking. It was nostalgia and a realization that Addis Ababa has really changed that occupied our mind. The days when the "cool" young high-school and students of the Commercial School and AAU wouldn't even consider getting into a "Zenbil" taxi [older Fiat 600 models]-which is mostly seen in the Merkato area or a taxi with no decent tape player. How about the days when a group of friends who thought they had the taxi by themselves from Amst Kilo to Mesqel square.......only for the taxi to stop and pick a mother-figure fresh with her "lega-qibe" on her hair and the smell! It wasn't unusual for some people to extend their destination especially when the passenger sitting next is a beautiful girl...."is-wa yemitwerdibet ewredalehu"....lucky that Addis is not Bombay or Mexico City....you can always get back to your destination in minutes. 
The Taxi culture of Addis is largely gone now; replaced by the crowded Wiyiyits which are more noisier, cheap, too reckless in their driving and drivers with bad-taste taste of music (what is up with Indian Cinema music in Addis Ababa taxis when we have Aster, Gigi, Teddy-Afro and Hanna Shenkute?). 

For the memory however, here are a few glimpses that MediaET presents to its visitors. 


Copyright @2002MediaEthiopia [SKK]. Photo in the middle left column is courtesy of M/K Hjemmeside.