Archive for January, 2012

Street scenes in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Street vendor, Addis Ababa

By way of contrast with the photos I posted yesterday, today I have shown some scenes of the shops and buildings of some of the ordinary people living in the bustling city of Addis Ababa. There are thousands of street vendors like the one shown above, selling everything from fruit and vegetables to clothing to shoes to whatever you want.

Shops in suburban Addis Ababa

Many of the shops are tiny – perhaps only a few square metres in the front room of a house. Bakeries, butcher shops, furniture shops, car repair garages, cafes, clothing shops, sheep and goats for sale, shoe shops – the list could go on and on. In any one street you can find thousands of different items for sale. It’s all very colourful and diverse with pedestrians moving along the street – or on the road – all the time.

One interesting thing we observed in moving through the streets and looking into shops; they are generally very clean. The street may be rough with potholes, drains, animal excrement and the like, but most shopkeepers take a pride in their shops and the wares they are selling. Even in the poorest areas they attempt to give good service and a good product.

Shops in suburban Addis Ababa

Shops in suburban Addis Ababa

Shops in suburban Addis Ababa

Scenes around Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Buildings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

One of the interesting things I found about visiting Ethiopia last December was the contrasts in the capital city, Addis Ababa. Today I have posted photos of several modern and quite lovely buildings, structures which would not be out of place in Australian cities. We went to several supermarkets and shopping centres and they looked very similar to what we’d find here in Adelaide or other Australian cities. In fact, the supermarkets were generally much cleaner and well kept than their Australian counterparts. Only the products on sale differed though we recognised many of the same brands we can get here at home. The labelling also differed, though many were in English as well as the locally spoken Amharic.

In most cases, however, we only had to go a short distance to see the other side of Ethiopia where the vast majority of people live in poor conditions and struggle for survival. More about that in coming days.

Buildings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Buildings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Scenes around Bingham Academy, Addis Ababa

My daughter's apartment building, Bingham Academy

During our visit to our daughter at Bingham Academy in Addis Ababa last December we stayed with her in her apartment on the school campus. In the photo above her apartment is the three windows on the top floor on the left of the ramp going up to the door. This was just a few metres across the car park from the teachers’ preparation offices so it was very convenient.

Staff apartments, Bingham Academy, Addis Ababa

In the second photo above are more staff apartments in the lower part of the school. We only went in one of these when we were invited to dinner to the home of an Australian family we got to know quite well while there. The housing for teachers at Bingham is quite comfortable without being over the top. All the teachers I spoke to seemed very happy with their accommodation. I observed that some classrooms were somewhat less than ideal, some needed maintenance and some were filling roles for which they were not designed. The administrative staff and governing board are very aware of these shortcomings. There is currently a strong fund raising effort to enable a completely new secondary school building to be built in the next year or so. This will ease the shortage of classroom accommodation in the rest of the school.

Bingham Academy, Addis Ababa

The above photo shows several of the classrooms, a part of the playground for the younger children and to the lower right the car maintenance sheds. The photo is taken from the balcony leading into the school library. The library is at bursting point and in serious need of expansion and upgrading. I think this is also on the plans for rebuilding.

Eucalyptus forest, Bingham Academy, Addis Ababa

One of my favourite spots within the campus was the eucalyptus forest near the oval. This was a very peaceful area and good birding there as well. I am a little sad that a part of this small forest will be removed in order to accommodate the new secondary building. I know its necessary for the future of the school and the students, but I hope some of the trees are retained as a very useful and pleasant amenity.

Overlooking Addis Ababa from Bingham Academy

From the library one has a limited view over neighbouring houses, as shown above. It shows the style and diversity of housing in the district. In another view – one I didn’t photograph – there is a prominent slum area. This is quite common in Addis Ababa: good housing merges with slum zones with very little separating the two.

The school tortoises

School tortoise, Bingham Academy, Addis Ababa

Not many schools can boast having their own resident tortoise. Bingham Academy in Addis Ababa can boast six of them. The school has a closed compound with a high fence surrounding the campus and a guarded gate only opened to allow car and foot traffic through.

It was my observation that the tortoises do a good job of keeping the grass and weeds trimmed to manageable levels, so they certainly earn their keep. The children tolerate these large creatures, especially when they slowly wander across the oval during soccer matches. The students just play around them.

Bingham Academy was where my daughter taught last year. We visited her in December. I will add more about our visit to Ethiopia in coming days.

School tortoise, Bingham Academy, Addis Ababa

I would like an Ethiopian Tukul

Traditional Ethiopian Tukul, Bingham Academy, Addis Ababa

While we were in Ethiopia in December we saw many traditional tukuls in the rural areas of the country. A tukul is a traditional style of hut used extensively throughout the country.

We had a close up look at several in the grounds of the school where our daughter was teaching last year. We both agreed that we would like one in our garden here in South Australia, so I took a number of photos to show how they are constructed. It seems easy enough so I might put my hands to good use later this year and make one.

Traditional Ethiopian Tukul,

Traditional Ethiopian Tukul,

Traditional Ethiopian Tukul,