Photo Essay - Addis Ababa Historical Buildings 

MediaETHIOPIA - June 27, 2002


This week, we had planned to do a "Photo Essay", on "chat picnics", the new and we might add - controversial - rage in town. On weekends, particularly, Sunday afternoons, the cool shades on the sides of the road to Debrezeit right after Kaliti are crowded with mostly young people from Addis Ababa. These youth have descended to these cool shades away from the pollution and noise of Addis Ababa to enjoy/hallucinate on fresh "chat". In a typical Middle Eastern fashion, people gather around carpet/sigaja and just hang out and munch on their "chat" until the sun sets. We had sent our crew the other weekend to do a story on this. But this turned out to be mission impossible. Well, let us put it this way - the first 4 or 5 pictures looked fine; the rest were huge blurs. This incident has made us join the camp that is calling for the complete ban on "chat" the stimulant that is giving our youth ugly greenish teeth......among many other things. 
At any rate, this week's story takes us to a familiar territory - Addis Ababa's historical buildings. These are buildings that tell stories - big stories. The identity of Armenian, Indian, Greek and Arab artisans that left their mark on our beloved city is evident in neighborhoods off the main roads. Some of these houses are inhabited by descendants of the original owners of the turn of the century. If Addis Ababa (for that matter Ethiopia) find its much awaited revival, these buildings should be the first to be rehabilitated. No one knows how many of these buildings were nationalized by the Dergue and are now in Mr. Meles' list of 22,000 houses he wants to sell. As a side note.....the PM office, we hear..and also verified by the local media, is directly handling the sell of these properties. Well, despite whoever owns them, these buildings will always belong to Addis Ababa. 

On top left corner is an early 20th century house with a corrugated iron roofing that now houses families and a clinic! Legend has it (has it been that long?) that this family health clinic was owned by the late Crown Prince Asfa Wossen (later Atse Amha Selassie...hope the Moa Anbessa people don't mind us saying this)...Right below it is a timber building in Piazza that now houses a boutique (Heni Boutique). Further below is a bell in the compounds of St. George Church that was given to Emperor H/Selassie by a foreign monarch. The subject being a "spotlight question" here at MediaETHIOPIA, we decline to give further details.

On the right top corner is the beautiful but old Arada Post Office. In our opinion here at MediaET, this is one of the most beautiful historical buildings in the city. Built by the Italians in their brief occupation of Addis, it still could have passed as one built by the British Raj in Northern India as a railway terminal. This is the story of Addis rarely told. Right below it is the "Continental Hotel" - another beautiful stone masonry and timber building in Piazza near Taitu hotel. The picture on the right bottom shows a building that used to be Addis Ababa's Municipality building. It is now occupied by a "Federal Court" and used to be a qebele office. 

Copyright @2002MediaEthiopia [SKK]. Photo Courtesy: MediaETHIOPIA and ETO-Journey Through Ethiopia.