"The Earth is Art, the Photographer is only a Witness."

Addis Ababa: Downtown Juncture

Addis Ababa, sprawling capital, expanding creature, pulsating cultural and commercial hub bordering the Great Rift Valley. Undulating hills recede in the haze of Summer rains, the cool highland temperatures making it feel less like an African Summer, more like a tropical island.

I was extremely fortunate to have 18 hours in this city on a layover Visa – completely unplanned and unexpected, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip.

A quick stint in this city gives access to the National Museum, where not only Ethiopian art and traditional crafts are displayed, but prehistoric fossils including famous “Lucy”, “Ardi” and “Idaltu” – early humanoids that were the source of much information about our own origins – and several items from the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie.

Addis Ababa means “New Flower” in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. It was founded in 1886 by Empress Taitu, wife of Emperor Menilek II, while the latter was away on a military campaign.

Downtown Addis Ababa is a vibrant, lively African city. During my visit, it was evident that many changes were taking place, with development, though somewhat haphazard, giving the city the look and feel of a termite mound before rain.

The locals are mostly friendly, and I was invited by a friendly stranger to join a traditional coffee ceremony in a corner shop.