Photo Essay - February 16, 2002 -  MediaETHIOPIA
Apartment Buildings of Addis Ababa

Not many people live in apartments in Addis Ababa or any parts of Ethiopia. We are just fine with our small fenced houses (wooden, brick, or mud) and at worst times living as debals (sub-leasers). The laundry, chicken and sheep ceremony for our scores of holidays are just a few of the conveniences of single-family dwellings in our cities.  That is not to say, however, that apartment living is not common. In fact, if Ato Fasika Sidelil of the Dergue era had his way, we all would have been living in 2-bed room apartments in Gerji and wearing ugly uniforms. And this brings us to the "bbb-eee-ttt a...y....melesim" era---so named after the infamous phrase of the PM who wrote 800-pages of his economic vision on RD (we even hate to spell it out...but for completeness...revolutionary democracy) that refuses to address the issue of confiscated houses and buildings. 800-pages? No wonder some refused to "swallow" the book and instead ended up in Maekelawii...Mr. Alazar Dessie's rather brave comment on this document at the Hilton comes to mind [Sir, after that comment, have you arranged for your family's safe-exit, BTW?]. But that is a different story...

The pictures here show some of the finest apartment buildings in the city. From lower-left going clockwise: Anbessa Bldg, Bedilu Bldg, 3-story flat on Weavil Street near Cathedral school, 8-story bldg on Churchil Road (near tele-Medhane Alem..only in Ethiopia telecom and Our Savior are used to name a place..BTW), St. George Terrace in the Tele Bar (Commercial School) area, a 10-story bldg near Ras Hotel, a 5-story bldg at Mesqel square and a 12-story apt bldg near Laibela Restaurant (stadium area). Our favorite are the St. George Terrace and the one across Cathedral School. Ok..ok...Bedilu Bldg (not exactly apt bldg) has a great architecture and workmanship one can't find these days. 

So, the question that comes to mind is: what the heck is the government doing with these buildings? Collecting rent and doing nothing and waiting until they fall down...of course! "Are you suggesting that they be returned to the 12 or so Aristocrats who owned Addis Ababa pre-74?" was a question that one of the photo essay members posed....Wait a minute here....this sentiment is not our official position, we should add...a heated argument arose amongst us (we all being of different background, feudal remnants, neo-revos, pacifists, qebele meeting goers, AAU drop-outs, etc, etc).  After few drinks in a trendy bar at the G-Floor (adisaba lingo for ground level) of a bldg at Africa Avenue (Bole Rd., for those who have forgotten), we seemed to agree that any owner, except the government would do just fine....There were few hold-outs, however. So, we decided to let our readers voice their opinions on the issue. Comments? 

Nationalized Houses and Buildings
What do you think the government do to nationalized houses and buildings?

Keep them nationalized. Chaos will ensue otherwise.
Return to the rightful owners or their family.
Sell them under well-regulated and audited auction.
Let the renters keep them.

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