Ethiopia / Places We Go

Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, as Africa’s fourth-largest city, is massive and incoherent. It’s probably easiest when broken down into districts and neighborhoods and I have divided some posts up by district – such as the Merkato or Meskal Square – to reflect this reality. However, this post is about the areas of Addis Ababa that can’t be conveniently tucked into a particular district or neighborhood.

Street scenes of Addis Ababa:

Addis Ababa

Beggars and doves in Addis Ababa

Workers in Addis Ababa

Street vendor in Addis Ababa

Despite being a predominantly Orthodox Christian country, Ethiopia does have its share of mosques:

Mosque in Addis Ababa

Fruit vendor in Addis Ababa

Scaffolding in Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa street scene

Donkey at Gallery 21 in Addis Ababa

Roadwork in Addis Ababa – they were working a lot harder than CalTrans does:

Roadwork in Addis Ababa

A retired Ethiopian soldier:

Retired soldier in Addis Ababa

Street scene in Addis Ababa

Long the symbol of Ethiopia’s monarchy, the Lion of Judah is ubiquitous throughout the country. Although images of the almighty animal abound in Addis Ababa, it’s the storied history of the Lion of Judah Monument that makes this statue noteworthy.

After being erected on the eve of Haile Selassie’s coronation in 1930, it was looted by the Italians in 1935 and placed in Rome next to the massive Vittorio Emanuelle Monument. In 1938, during anniversary celebrations of the proclamation of the Italian Empire, Zerai Deress, a young Eritrean, spotted the statue and defiantly interrupted the proceedings to kneel and pray before it. After police verbally and then physically attempted to halt his prayers, he rose and attacked the armed Italians with his sword while screaming, “The Lion of Judah is avenged!” He seriously injured several officers (some reports say he killed five) before he was shot. Although he died seven years later in an Italian prison, his legend lives on in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The Lion of Judah Monument was eventually returned to Addis Ababa in the 1960s:

Lion of Judah Monument in Addis Ababa

There is a cluster of newspaper vendors in this part of the city and many residents congregate here, reading their freshly purchased newspapers. It’s social because it is a group activity, but at the same time it is anti-social because everyone is in their own world reading their respective newspapers:

Newspaper crew in Addis Ababa

Newspaper crew in Addis Ababa

Phone trees… I hadn’t seen those in a while:

Telecomunications center in Addis Ababa

A livestock market in Addis Ababa:

Livestock market in Addis Ababa

Ethiopians take their religion seriously and, as such, there are churches everywhere:

Church grounds in Addis Ababa

Some of the varying homes across Addis Ababa:

Addis Ababa homes

Home and old car in Addis Ababa

This home could probably be had cheaply – it’s slowly collapsing into a ravine:

Collapsing house in Addis Ababa

These guys had an interesting business – decorating coffins:

Coffin decorators in Addis Ababa

And as long as we’re on the topic of death… Nothing in the capital is as poignant a reminder of the country’s painful communist rule as the towering Derg Monument. Topped by a massive red star and emblazoned with a golden hammer and sickle, the cement obelisk-like structure climbs skyward in front of Black Lion Hospital:

Derg Monument in Addis Ababa

This being Africa, poverty is a constant presence:

Rainy day poverty in Addis Ababa

Sleeping in the street:

Sleeping in the street in Addis Ababa

Shitting in the street (well, next to it anyway):

Man shitting in the street in Addis Ababa

Washing himself and his clothing in one of the extremely polluted ravines that runs through the city:

Washing in the river in Addis Ababa

Poverty in Addis Ababa

One of the polluted rivers of Addis Ababa:

Polluted river in Addis Ababa

And the trash flowing into it:

Trash flowing into river in Addis Ababa

Like all cities, Addis Ababa has many extremes.

45 thoughts on “Addis Ababa

  1. Pingback: The Red Terror Martyr’s Memorial « The Velvet Rocket

  2. Who ever posted this has focused on all the negatives of Addis Ababa . The aim and purpose of this post is to highlight the negative. I hope the poster will get a life and move on for his/her own good. Hate hurts the hater.

  3. Actually, I think this is a fairly positive review of Addis Ababa… I didn’t go into all of the people that ripped us off or tried to rip us off, or the all-consuming greed of the church, or the horrible ways in which animals are treated, or the thugs that make up the dictator’s security services, etc.

    What I focused on was what I saw and you can’t point to a single element in this post that is factually incorrect. Additionally, since the majority of this Addis Ababa post is comprised of pictures (and pictures are objective), your “hater” comment would seem to carry no weight.

    Don’t let emotion stand in the way of seeing your city or country as it really is. Some places are more perfect than others, but no place is completely perfect.

  4. So your camera could only work for the worst part of Addis hey, how can you as one of those perverts who travel to third world countries to hunt for innocent underage girls miss the beautiful women ethiopians are known for. surely, either your camera or yourself have an issue with ethiopia. Or am I being naive to thinks that you are indeed who you say you are, just because you use a white man’s name and photo? I say so cos we have neighbors who have nothing better than sticking their banda nose in Ethiopia’s business…cheers.

    • Your “point” is rather incoherent. However, I interpret your utterances as expressing displeasure with anyone that dares to criticize Ethiopia.

      Take the rose-colored glasses off… I don’t have a problem with Ethiopia. We met some very nice people and parts of the country are beautiful. What I have a problem with are thugs masquerading as a government (which Ethiopia certainly has with its present dictator and his security services), any organized religion that demonstrates hypocrisy and breathtaking greed (ever been to Lalibela?) and people that see visitors as just a source of handouts (many of the people that approach a visitor in Ethiopia want something from you).

  5. Dear Justin Ames:

    You did a very good job. the truth must be told. One of your picture is the place where i grow up in and after so many years there is no change at all. I wish you could have time and get some opinion from the local ppls. Ethiopia is steeping back ward despite of the current government false and self claim of 11% economic growth.

  6. Justine,
    Nobody said these negative images of ethiopia don’t exist, but for example you mentioned Lalibela and some historical places but I see no pictures of them, instead you managed to throw all sorts judgmental slurs against the poor people around the historical site. typical of some ignorant white working class westerners who travel to third world countries for the sole purpose of feeling good about themselves by mocking the less fortunate. or, given some of your political ranting in you comments, you could be one of those law life mercenaries employed by a group with vested interest in discrediting anything ethiopian. but bear in mind, you are not the first and you won’t be the last. believe it or not, I don’t give a toss about the current dictator in ethiopia, but I am one of those ethiopians who can draw a line between politics and a lie. cos in truth I know there is more to ethiopia than your selected garbage. Don’t get too excited by some cheerleaders on this site. claiming to be an ethiopian on the net doesn’t make one an ethiopian…..

    • You see no pictures of them? You obviously haven’t looked very hard before running your mouth off.

      Why don’t you read some of these and then come back once you can actually claim that you know what you are talking about. And, yes, Lalibela is included.

      https://thevelvetrocket.com/category/travel/ethiopia-travel/

      The problem is that you are unwilling to see beyond your emotions the simple fact that Ethiopia – like any other country – has both its good and bad points. Instead, you rely on racist stereotypes, false assumptions and tired old cliches to cling to your pretty lies and lash out at someone delivering a message you know is accurate, but don’t want to hear because it wounds your pride. And to prove my point, you still have not pointed out a single thing I said that is factually incorrect.

      Oh, and consider for a moment how weird and crazy your comments sound. Mercenaries and conspiracies? Come on…

      • Justin am sorry buddy you are right this is just what us American call “WOUNDED PRIDE” but don’t tell them because as you can see they are a very Proud Countries and only want people to see the good and not the Bad? These people who are complaining are not the Real People of Addis Ababa Ethiopia because if anyone loves their country they would love everything about it? These people sound like Mitt Romney and The Republicans? LoL Justin I am planning on visiting Addis Ababa within a few months so being an Born African-American man I want to thank you for the Great Real Photo kid!!!! The pictures were right on time for anyone who wants to see more then the pictures that give you on a Brochure or at the airports or at travel Web Site who are just like in Americans and other counties only shows the good side of their country? Talk about racist remark damn I thought I was reading something from the KKK Bible? LoL Good Job and remember that Willie Lytch RACISM is WORLD WIDE? They did not mean to say white guy but “American”? This will help me be ready for the tugs and Dictators? Talk about Americans Haters Wow!!!!!!

  7. Hi Justin,

    I haven’t back to Addis since I left it during the communist era over 20 years ago. All I hear from friends who visit is how wonderful Bole road is and how things have improved so much. I have indelible images in my mind of the overwhelming poverty that existed when I was there and still exists to this day. Any culture, civilization shouldn’t always highlight the tall buildings and the monuments that it builds. In my opinion, it is when the guy who was shitting in the street finds a public toilet to go to, the starving kid is fed, and the helpless have a social network that they can rely on, that we can proclaim to be successful. You have posted some disturbing images that I haven’t thought about in years and I think some of us may have been offended by it. But it is a part of day to day life in Addis. Instead of getting mad at you for posting them, I think we should look within and ask ourselves why we have a guy shitting on street. I would like to hear more about your experiences during your trip, about the sites sounds and smells of the city. Do you plan to post more reflections in the future?

    • Thank you for your comment, Dawit. I’m glad you got the fact that I was trying to show things as they are in Addis Ababa. Not good or bad or how they should or could be, but simply how they are…

      I’ve actually written a fair amount about Ethiopia. If you just go to the main page and click on “Ethiopia” in the list of countries to the right, you’ll see all of my Ethiopian postings.

  8. hi,
    I’m Ethiopian but I’m not offended by the pictures you posted at all. It is what it is. Honestly, I enjoyed the pics cuz they reminded me of things I miss-good and bad. What we (ethiopians, or other africans) don’t like is the evaluation (judgement) of our cities/country/people by westerners who don’t understand/sympathize with who/what we are and why. You mentioned how you didn’t complain about pickpocketers and what not but for us it’s not a big deal. Not because we think stealing is ok but because we understand why those kids are inclined to do so. I guess it’s unreasonable to expect an expat to love our country as we do, but we’re ethiopians and by definition stubornly patriotic. So pardon us if we get mad everytime a person misses to mention how awesome ethiopia is…lol…

  9. Justin,

    The folks who are praising your lousy pictures are not Ethiopians . Don’t flatter yourself, red neck ***hole. I can go to Alabama and take pictures of trailer park trashes piss drunk on the sidewalk scratching their balls and post it online. Would it represent America as a whole, judging from you, perhaps.

    • Interesting that you can tell whether someone is from Ethiopia or Addis Ababa based on whether you agree with them or not… Are you psychic?

      Unfortunately, I’m afraid that Alabama does indeed represent all too much of America. And if you look at any of the “Southern Exposure” postings on my site, you’ll see what me being critical or negative really looks like.

      But, that’s neither here nor there… Your knee-jerk, emotional response doesn’t change the fact that I’ve shown Addis Ababa as it really is and not how you want it to be. I know that your dictator lives in a palace in Addis surrounded by armed guards, but that’s not what the city really looks like as a whole. I’ve shown the good and the bad and you would evidently prefer that I just show one side of things.

      Oh, and you’re allowed to write “asshole” here at The Velvet Rocket, Abesha… We don’t censor comments – whether we like what is written or not. Is that a quality you would share?

  10. Thank you, Tariku, for so aptly demonstrating the level of intelligence, maturity and impartiality of my “Pictures And Scenes Of Addis Ababa” critics. You’ve done a fabulous job of proving all of my points.

  11. You bitch! Politics is a different issue no matter what we are not in agreement with the party in power we don’t let a bitch like you to insult our mother land.Many of Our grand father who defeated your ancestors at the battle Aduwa were not in agreement with the then King Menelik but they scarified themselves only because they know that the two are completely different. Those of you who are claiming to be Ethiopian being in favor of the bitch take a break and think whether you deserve to be an Ethiopian because though we have different attitudes towards politics our forefathers didn’t teach us to go against our country by supporting the bad intention of the bitches. I believe we are living in underdeveloped country all those photos describe the features that poverty can be described but there is another part of the story where Ethiopia started to move forward to get out of poverty & there are many indicators for that. If you are really keen for the development of the country why don’t you encourage & promote what the country has started already. Because if you promote the good features of the country that will solve the problem of the poor by increasing FDI. If you change your intention I am glad to hear from you but if not I don’t even need to see a bitch like you may be i might start to break into pieces the camera of any bitch like you if i find him/her taking bad photos having bad faith of tarnishing the image of my country.

    • Haha. You Addis Ababa haters are killing me. You just keep proving my points.

      I truly wonder if you have actually read the “Pictures And Scenes Of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia” post… Not one of you has been able to point out something that is factually incorrect about that post. The reason for that is because I have presented Addis Ababa as it is, with both the good and the bad. Seriously, please share with me the section in which I am “insulting” your motherland, Weyne. I’d really like to know. And I KNOW you have not read any of my other posts about Ethiopia – some of which are unambiguously positive.

      I find it telling that all of you wish to simply silence something you disagree with rather than to engage it on any level and attempt to critique it with facts or reason. Your childish threats of violence, Weyne, are an example of this. And I can assure you that you will not get Ethiopia where you want it to be by stifling a truth you don’t care for with violence. The Derg already tried that in Ethiopia and it didn’t work.

      By the way, do you really think an individual or company contemplating FDI (That’s Foreign Direct Investment for those of you that don’t know) will not have done their homework already and can see for themselves (good or bad) what not just Addis Ababa, but the rest of Ethiopia is like as well?

      In the meantime, I’ll still be waiting for that example of something in my post that is incorrect…

  12. True love, whether it be romantic, patriotic, whatever form or label you want to put on it, is when you see what you claim to love for what it truly is and still love it. We have an old, beautiful, colorful, poor, full of potential, historical…country that is unique. We have a proud past, some painful, some happy. For those of you who are insulting Justin as well as the rest of us for “agreeing” with Justin, please take a moment and think about how much you love your country. I love Ethiopia just the way she is. I know her strengths and I also know her weaknesses but I love her just the same. I also want her to be better, and I acknowledge and recognize what needs to be done to make her into what we all wish she should be and can be. By threatening and insulting people who disagree with your opinions, you are just telling on yourself and to me you love Ethiopia only from her good side.

  13. i kind of get why most of abesha who comment here got upset. i personally felt like if u go accros an ocean to a different continent why not spend the time u have on something positive … i know showing things as they are is a positive thing … but for instance, why not show a man giving the beggar a coin for lunch… you still will be taking the picture as it is …what u see… u see where am going with this. don’t get me wrong i have lived almost all my life in addis abeba. i know all its wonderfulls, goods, bads and worst… and i mean worst. i’m not mad about the pictures… it’s just that … i don’t know

    • If I had seen someone giving a coin to a beggar, I would have taken a picture of that scene and included it in this post. It would have been a good picture. But, I didn’t see that.

      • I guess bad things are right infront of you. .. and if you want something good you have to search for it! I read what you replied for lal, you said “ I promise you that if I strolled through London or Rome or New York that I could do far, far worse than anything you see in the Addis Ababa” …but you know it still won’t be as exaggerated as the 3rd world countries… but am ashamed to say I felt a lot better.. lol .but seriously continue doing what you’re doing. Don’t let negative criticism let you down. With god’s blessing I plan on going around the world helping people after I graduate from college. Keep what you’re doing!

      • Thank you for your response.

        Haha, I’m not even sure that such scenes are more exaggerated in developing countries. Last time I was in New York, for example, I saw a homeless man passed out on the sidewalk. Next to him were the remains of a mouse he had tried to eat and then vomited back up onto the sidewalk. I never saw anything like that in Addis Ababa!

        I wish you the very best with your studies in Addis Ababa (if you are in Addis) and in your plans to help people around the world.

  14. hey justine,

    Just like the comment from ‘findata’ above, I say if you have given more weight to the positive aspects. I believe there is a some kind of fixation among visitors to a third world country, and especially to Africa. They go to such places with one prime objective: adventure. They project their travel as something challenging and rewarding, and as such when they arrive they tend to focus only on those issues and overlook simple day to day aspects of life. I know it is difficult to be an objective person coming from the ‘civilized world’, but try to understand what you right here is a very narrow reality of what you saw, and as such try to elevate the positive aspects of your travel if you want to help improve the already tarnshed image of the country. When you think about it, nothing good comes out of focusing on the negatives and believe me Ethiopia is a good example for this. Instead if we start thinking and talking positive we will start achieving. Leave the negatives to ‘BBC’ and ‘CNN’.

    • Thank you for the comment. However, I’m curious as to what you see as uniquely “negative” in my presentation of Addis Ababa? You think you can’t find people sleeping or shitting on the streets of Rome, London or New York? Do you think you won’t find pollution or poverty in Berlin or San Francisco? These “negatives” are not unique to Addis Ababa. Every city in the world has such things. I promise you that if I strolled through London or Rome or New York that I could do far, far worse than anything you see in the Addis Ababa post. It is not a question of “developing world” versus “developed world.” Rather, it is a demonstration that we are all a lot more alike than is commonly acknowledged. All cities are inherently similar. And so, yes, I did try to portray “day to day” life in Addis Ababa exactly as it is.

      And if I really did miss something – positive or negative – in Addis Ababa, I would love to know what it was.

  15. I love these, and your other photos on your site! Truly an amazing resource for artists. One thing many people here are complaining about is that you show the “ugly” side of Ethiopia, but to be honest, I think there is something truly beautiful in the scenes that we often dismiss as ugly. I’m a comic book illustrator and many times need to find reference photos to use for various scenes. It can be exceedingly difficult to find reference for the normal, mundane, or not-so-flattering features of a particular locale. Obviously I have no axe to grind as I’m just another guy from the U.S. , but I can say that I also appreciate photos of the many slums in the States. One thing I would like to say to the Ethiopian people that are angered by some of these photos: There is nothing to be ashamed of. Every place has its dirty underbelly, and poverty is nothing to be ashamed of, as its rarely the fault of the people who are suffering from it. Rather, its often the fault of those in the government, and many times, other more powerful foreign countries(like the U.S…We just love to topple democratically elected leaders and install “our” guys). So, whether or not these images are negative, they’re still showing a truth, and there is no shame in truth.

  16. all over the world knows bad side of ethiopia justine, why the same thing u want to show this? there is a lot of amazing n historical places may be the other world do not know why u don’t want to show that , if u post it like a unique picture aim telling u its obvious. aim ashamed for those who accept it like a good photos even i doubt weather they are ethiopian or not.

  17. I am just wondering…Are we better off without these slum tourists? Are they doing more harm than good? I hope sociologists enlighten us on this.

    • hey Abe, let me tell u something…. tourists are outsiders… meaning they see other country as they see it.is.. they don’t take sides. me and you are ethiopians therefore get angry at such postings. but the matter of fact is…. this are indeed in adisabba and are still there today. when some one show us this instead of accusing …. it should give us a reason to do something about it. dehnawal.

  18. Ahhhhh. Here we go again. Walk through any big city in the world from London to Addis Ababa to New York to Mumbai and you will see good areas and bad areas. Showing both is being balanced and showing what things are really like. It is not “slum tourism” as you suggest.

    I find it curious that so many of you advocate censorship. And that makes me wonder if you have a stake in the current government. Why not just pass a law prohibiting photography in Ethiopia? After all, if the truth is inconvenient, it is far easier to cover it up or outlaw it, right? History is full of examples of how well such methods have worked out.

    Have any of you advocates for censorship ever considered acknowledging that Ethiopia has poor people and wealthy people like any other country? Perhaps you could focus more energy on alleviating the causes of poverty than on attacking those that simply point out that Ethiopia is more like the other countries of the world than you’d care to admit…

    Or are you just making too much money off of the current government as cynical readers of this post have emailed me and suggested about the proponents of censorship on here?

  19. your logic is laughable at best.
    1.U say my family and friends(i have reservation about you reading it in reputable travel blogs coz i can say I have read most) have seen it so it is common.
    2. you say you are against censorship but try to silence people who dont agree with your post by wildly accusing them of corruption.
    May be it is my fault. I shouldnt be wasting my time in a shadowy travel blog to start with. Adios!

  20. Censorship is preventing someone from saying or showing something that you don’t want them to share. You may not have noticed, but your comment posted directly the second time you left one. That’s because I gave you unrestricted access to any area of this site without moderating your comments. I disagree with what you are saying, but I am, in fact, promoting your ability to say it. That is the very opposite of censorship. Look up your definitions…

    I have never claimed this was a travel blog. This site is for me. If you want a cute, Disneyland-style travel web site where they show only the happy side of life and claim the whole world is roses, then you are definitely in the wrong place. I try to show things as they really are, not as you want them to be seen, Abebe.

  21. Pingback: Plenty» Blog Archive » ethiopia addis ababa pictures

  22. JUSTIN . EXUCSE THESE IDIOTS THAT ONLY SEE WHAT THEY WANT TO SEE. THEY ARE PROBABLY ASS KISERS AND OPPORTUNISTS THAT ARE PICKING LEFT OVERS FROM THE DICTATOR AND HIS THUGS. THEY DO NOT WANT TO HERE THAT THEY ARE UNDERDEVELOPED AND THEY DO NOT COMPARE THEMSELVE TO THE WORLD. THEY HAVE A SMALL BRAIN WITH A SMALL VIEW. WE CALL THESE IDIOTS ” DEDEB LEMAGNS” OR “ALEKLAKIS”. THEY TOOK YOUR COMMENTS AND PICTURES PERSONAL. THIS IS A SIGN THAT THEY ARE PART OF THE MORONIC DICTATORSHIP LEFTOVERS. THEY DON’T ALLOW FREE SPEECH, EXCUSE THEIR IGNORANCE OR SO TO SAY, THEIR NARROW MINDEDNESS. DON’T YOU SEE THIS IS A SIGN OF DICTATORSHIP. SOME OF THEM MAY EVEN BE COLLEGE EDUCATES/ FALSELY EDUCATED THAT IS. ENANTE WUSHOCH, DON’T YOU WANT TO TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR OWN SELVES IN THE MIRROR. GOOD JOB JUSTIN. THEY ARE PLAYING THE RACE CARD TO ERASE THE REALITIES. HOW IRRELEBANT. DON’T WAISTE YOUR TIME REPLYING TO THESE DUMMIES. THERE ARE MANY OF THEM IN ADDIS. ASS KISSERS THAT DON’T WANT TO SEE HOW THEIR FELLOW ETHIOPIAN BROTHERS ARE LIVING. YOU ARE SAD CASES FOR ETHIOPIA AND YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED BEFORE YOU THE POOR PEOPLE SEND YOU TO HELL.

  23. Ignore all the people who are trying to force you to do as they wish i.e. show the country and thus by extention the ruling dictatorsip in a good light – that’s woyanes (the supporters of the dictatorial regime) for you…

  24. This piece from the New York Times is about the dictator of Ethiopia some of you are so passionately defending!

    The original is here:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/29/opinion/sunday/kristof-whats-he-got-to-hide.html?_r=1&ref=nicholasdkristof

    Op-Ed Columnist
    What’s He Got to Hide?

    The case of two Swedish journalists imprisoned in Ethiopia sheds light on a harsh campaign of repression.

    By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
    Published: January 28, 2012

    IN a filthy Ethiopian prison that is overridden with lice, fleas and huge rats, two Swedes are serving an 11-year prison sentence for committing journalism.

    Martin Schibbye, 31, and Johan Persson, 29, share a narrow bed, one man’s head beside the other’s feet. Schibbye once woke up to find a rat mussing his hair.

    The prison is a violent, disease-ridden place, with inmates fighting and coughing blood, according to Schibbye’s wife, Linnea Schibbye Steiner, who last met with her husband in December. It is hot in the daytime and freezing cold at night, and the two Swedes are allowed no mail or phone calls, she said. Fortunately, she added, the 250 or so Ethiopian prisoners jammed in the cell protect the two journalists, pray for them and jokingly call their bed “the Swedish embassy.”

    What was the two men’s crime? Their offense was courage. They sneaked into the Ogaden region to investigate reports of human rights abuses.

    Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s increasingly tyrannical ruler, seemed to be sending a signal to the world’s journalists: Don’t you dare mess with me!

    So the only proper response is a careful look at Meles’s worsening repression. Sadly, this repression is abetted by acquiescence from Washington and by grants from aid organizations.

    Those Swedish journalists will probably be released early because of international pressure. But there will be no respite for the countless Ethiopians who face imprisonment, torture and rape.

    I’m in Davos, Switzerland, for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, and so is Meles. I’ve been pursuing him for the last few days, trying to confront him and ask him about his worsening pattern of brutality.

    He has refused to see me, so I enlisted my Twitter followers to report Meles sightings. I want to ask him why he has driven more journalists into exile over the last decade than any other leader in the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York City.

    Meles has done genuine good in fighting poverty. He has some excellent officials under him, including a superb health minister, and Ethiopia’s economy is making progress in health and agriculture. Ethiopia is full of aid organizations, and it has a close intelligence and military relationship with the United States government.

    Yet since 2005, when an initial crackdown left 200 protesters dead and 30,000 detained, Meles has steadily tightened his grip. A Human Rights Watch report this month noted that the government is forcibly removing tens of thousands of people from their rural homes to artificial villages where they risk starvation. Those who resist endure arrests, beatings or worse.

    “The repression is getting worse,” notes Tamerat Negera, who fled to the United States after the newspaper he edited was closed down in 2009. “His vision seems an attempt to root out any dissent.”

    Meles has criminalized dissent, with a blogger named Eskinder Nega now facing terrorism charges, which could mean a death sentence. His true crime was calling on the government to allow free speech and end torture.

    Appallingly, the Meles regime uses foreign food aid to punish his critics. Ethiopia is one of the world’s largest recipients of development aid, receiving about $3 billion annually, with the United States one of its largest donors. This money does save lives. But it also “underwrites repression in Ethiopia,” in the words of Human Rights Watch.

    Families and entire areas of the country are deliberately starved unless they back the government, human rights groups have shown. In Ethiopia, the verb “to starve” is transitive.

    Look, I’m a huge advocate of smart aid to fight global poverty. But donors and aid groups need to ensure that their aid doesn’t buttress repression.

    The Meles regime, run largely by a coterie from his own minority Tigrayan ethnicity, has been particularly savage in the Ogaden region, where it faces an armed uprising. When Jeffrey Gettleman, a colleague at The New York Times, went to the Ogaden in 2007, he found a pattern of torture and rape. The government then arrested Gettleman and two colleagues, detaining them for five days in harsh conditions.

    The two Swedish reporters illegally entered the Ogaden and met a rebel group to examine that human rights wasteland. In December, they were sentenced to 11-year terms.

    Steiner, Schibbye’s wife, said of the harsh conditions: “Eleven years in an Ethiopian prison is equal to life, because you do not survive that long.”

    Amnesty International says that in the last 11 months, the government has arrested at least 114 Ethiopian journalists and opposition politicians. It described this as “the most far-reaching crackdown on freedom of expression seen in many years in Ethiopia.”

    Prime Minister Meles, you may have dodged me in Davos, but your brutality toward Swedish, American and Ethiopian journalists will not silence the world’s media. You’re just inviting more scrutiny.

  25. Truly only negative pictures of Addis Abeba, this blog is there for enlightenment – the pictures that you pose on this blog, only show a dirty, polluted slum-city. Not a rich, cultivating, historical city with the most beautiful inhabitants.

  26. Just happened to come across this post. Very interesting. Many of the comments prove certain points… It should be noted that the blog post was extremely neutral and not provocative at all.

    An honest description of Addis Ababa would be: aggressive, noisy, dull, dusty, crowded, dirty, ugly and unorganized. This is what 90% of the foreigners think. This is not an exaggeration, believe me. Of course this will not be told to Ethiopians face to face to not have them feel insulted, but when a foreigner chats with an another foreigner things can be discussed as they are really felt.

    In general, Ethiopians do not like foreigners (they hate foreigners), and because of that foreigners do not like Ethiopians either. And I do not mean just the white foreigners, but also black foreigners do not like the country. Or they do like the countryside for its beauty and the main sights in Ethiopia, but the hassle and trouble is often too much to bear with.

    Having been, and also lived in, to many development countries, Ethiopia is the only one I have been to where you can very quickly notice the unwelcoming atmosphere. In addition to having everyday encounters with Ethiopians, I met dozens/hundreds of foreigners during my time in Addis and Hawassa and from the very beginning (I went to Ethiopia with an open mind) I noticed that something is very different on how the foreigners view the country as opposed to other countries I had and have been posted. Foreigners try to get along in Addis and then hope to move to a nicer country.

    Of course there are foreigners who love Ethiopia and its people. In the above I wast talking how the consensus sees things.

  27. Wow Justin, I think you started a firestorm! I can’t believe the hate and name calling that has been thrown at you but I do understand some of the emotions. Everyone wants to have pride about where they are from and if that pride is hurt, even unintentionally, it will cause a backlash. You are right, pictures are objective but I do agree that you could have posted more of a variety of photos as there are nice areas of Addis. Every city has rich, poor and in-between. People in Africa are very sensitive to outsiders because they feel they are being compared to Europeans. Ethiopians are some of the most beautiful people in Africa and they have a very special history. The governments are the ones ruining the country. I think however, that ignorance is shown when the readers are accusing you of being something when they know nothing about you. Pride comes before a fall. People, try to make comments without name calling and accusing him of being a “sex tourist”. Would you like it if I accused your father of FGM when I know nothing about him? All you are doing is showing that you can not control your emotions and I am embarrassed for you.

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