Two Scenes of Addis

Across from the big, new, Ethiopian Orthodox Church as you’re walking along Cameroon Street away from the airport, is a stately new residential compound.  Word is that the second wealthiest man in Ethiopia owns the property. 

The parents’ home is as opulent as anything you’d see in Richville, USA, complete with a hanging chandelier on the one balcony and big open windows so passers-by can see the fine furniture not intended to be sat on and art on the walls.  What’s more, Dad provided homes for each of his children, four smaller versions, though still several thousand square feet in size, of comfort beyond necessity fall in line along the road. 

Video cameras scan the street, guards sit inside little office-like posts by the ornate gates that open to the driveways, and the sidewalk is wide and made from fancy brick.  And there are speed bumps along the two-football-field stretch of road that runs in front of the place, a place that could be picked up and transplanted in Beverly Hills and would feel right at home with its neighbors.


At the bottom of a small hill on Bole Road, a couple of boys–street kids–wearing dirty rags for clothes, play in the mud puddles of an undeveloped piece of land after a hard rain.  They’re having a good time, laughing while sliding on their butts in the mud. 

Some were washing a minibus that transports people around the city.  The driver parked the bus in the runoff, and the boys used the brown water to clean the bus, earning a few Birr for their labor.

By a cinder block wall are little mounds of what appear to be trash, plastic sheets covering whatever might be underneath.  That is where they sleep, homeless kids with “homes” on the street.   


If you were to stand inside the parents’ house and look out from one of the windows, there’s a good chance you could see the boys crawling into their homes at night.

1 comment on “Two Scenes of Addis

  1. I have grown to love your blog and check it daily to see what your insight offers me for the day. I love Addis, I have not travelled the continent much further than Ethiopia, but I can see and feel the sounds and smells when you describe it. Until, I find myself there again, I am hoping to find a position at some point, I thank you.

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