Skip to main content

A Kenyan in Addis Ababa (Part 2) - The "University Girls"

Addis Ababa's Light Rail system runs through the middle of a street.
The electrified light rail is still under construction, though mostly done
This post continues from Part 1. 

The residents of Addis are friendly too. On my first day, I did meet a guard at a hotel, who later offered to show me around. Among the places he suggested, was this place where some “University girls” were holding some "dancing ceremony". He added, that Ethiopians being Orthodox Christians, were about to go on a sex, alcohol and meat fast, hence the importance of this “ceremony.”

I had some suspicion that I was being sold to sex, but my guide insisted that this was not a sex sale. Just dancing University girls. We did end up in some nondescript compound, and into a house. There was sort of a sitting area, with a radio system, low benches and tables, and grass sprinkled around the floor. Grass sprinkled around the floor is an Ethiopian tradition that indicates you are welcome to a place.

It was about 5 PM,  and the hosts seemed not to be expecting any visitors at this time. My guide disappeared down some corridor into the back to call them. In marched a troop of light ladies, a good number wearing vest tops. I could have sworn they were all chosen on the basis of the massiveness of their breasts. The typical woman in the streets did not have as large a pair, which raised the question of the odds of about 6 of them being in one place.

It also hit me that I was a client, which was confirmed when about 2 men walked in - probably the pimps. The ladies insisted I seat and have coffee, and they would dance. I was apprehensive, after an experience I once had in Istanbul. I insisted I needed to get back to my hotel to work, which had some truth in it. This is despite the fact that they had switched on some music and started dancing.

I may be wrong, but I think I hold the record for the fastest exit out of this place. I practically led my host out. Gladly,  there was no Istanbul incident here,  probably more of puzzled ladies.

My guide later attempted to calm my frayed nerves by insisting that these were just your typical university girls. I should take their number, and if we like each other,  they can even visit me in my hotel room. I don’t even need to pay them,  but you know, being African, someone gives people a little money for fare, about 100 Birr. I didn’t ask why they needed taxi fare to commute a stone’s throw distance from my hotel.

Now, as much as my job does involve Public Relations and Communications, Daudt, (Sorry Ethiopians, this is how it spelt?) my guide, could damn well do a better job than I could ever dream off. I mean, who else convinces you this well to pay for something without the thought that you are buying it crossing your mind?

It is noteworthy that among the first places that you are shown to as a male visitor to Addis, is a "ladies’ house".

Yeah to friendship!!!
Noteworthy too is that prostitution is not illegal in Ethiopia. It seems, the police and the state have better things to do other than harass women for selling sex. Again, never did I spot a police vehicle parked at some street, probably extorting from bar owners and those milling around. Landing back in Nairobi the next day, a police vehicle parked near some bars was among the first sights I encountered from the airport. Nairobi.

The police in Ethiopia, I am told, are not in the habit of accepting bribes. In fact, I am told the corrupt in this country are made example of, such that others do not develop an appetite for ill gotten gains. What a contrast from Kenya.

You will also like to know that Daudt, after showing me around to some shops, and a “university girls party”, did not ask for any money for the effort! This contrasts with Nairobi, where people will even ask you for “something small” because they moved out of your way in the street. Well, not exactly, but you get it. Again, read Yvonne Adhiambo’s Weight of Whispers.

More of the light rail in a different part of Addis
An electrified light rail is under construction by the Chinese (as is almost everything else). The light rail links sections of Addis Ababa,  but still remains non-operational.

The impact of the Chinese in this city is such that the airport has signage in both English and Chinese. 

If you doubted Ethiopian-Chinese friendship, Addis Ababa does have an Ethio-China Friendship Road, and an Ethio-China Friendship Square, and to top it all an African-China Friendship Square.

Going back to the cost of imported cars, many are not able to afford cars. Those who can have to settle for what would be cheaper cars. As such, people who can comfortably afford Subarus in Kenya would have to do with an older Vitz in Ethiopia, as the prices would be about the same.

The mechanics in Addis must be quite good, for much as they have well aged cars, I rarely came across a smoking car, something that is pretty common in Nairobi.

While the Ethiopian government’s motive seems to be to encourage local manufacturing through disincentivising imports, I feel it would be more effective to instead switch to an incentive model, where the government helps potential investors set up globally competitive and sustainable businesses. That, however, is a topic for another day.

A variety of shoes, all made in Ethiopia
Compared to Kenya,  Ethiopia seems to produce much more. There was a variety of leather products,  wool products,  handmade and machine textiles,  and food products. These same industries also seem to hold a lot of potential, for those willing to set up export-geared manufacturing focused on quality and foreign tastes. As an example, their leather products could do with finer stitching and a variety of designs for the export market.
If you plan to go shopping,  you can check out Churchill Avenue,  or "Post Office",  though the same items are available at Merkato for half the price, or less. Be warned that if you are dropped off at Churchill, it will be mostly outside a more expensive shop that shares commission with your cabbie. Do shop around.


Yeah maan!
Me and Solo
I did meet “Solo” somewhere along Churchill Avenue. He could tell I was a Kenyan, probably because I had some shopping. Most Ethiopians otherwise thought I was a Habesha, with one old man even stopping me in the street and saying lots of things in Amharic. When they did learn I was Kenyan, the Ethiopians were curious to know if I was “Kikuyu”. They do have more tribes than we do.

Solo had been to Kenya before, in an attempt to travel to somewhere in Europe. This had failed. His sister however lives in Hurlingham,  and is “married to a Kikuyu.” It is interesting how Africans approach the thorny issue of tribe in other countries. If only the matter wasn’t as controversial.

Solo also tried to get me to visit a place near where I was staying, where I would find some University girls about to go on holiday. I could take their number,  and they could come to my hotel room, have some fun, and I could,  in African culture, give them “some fare”. He may not be as refined as Daudt, but what a coincidence?

He did make sure I took photos of a British Cannon monument on Churchhill Avenue,  and remarked I was sharp for shopping around beyond where my cabbie had dropped me. He also did share some titbits about Ethiopia that I have shared elsewhere here. Again, it did feel odd that at the end of my interaction with Solo,  he did not hassle me for any money. Addis is a strange city for a Nairobian.

Street coffee. Do try some, trade stories 
At a coffee stall by a street under construction, I did meet some other Ethiopian who had some knowledge of Kiswahili, having lived in South B for a while. He too had probably come to Nairobi in an attempt to find his way to Europe. Nairobi, if you may not be aware, is a regional human and drug trafficking hub to Europe.

Apologies for splitting my experiences into a series of blog posts. No, it is not for the page views, I'm just not sure many people would read 4,700 words and more in a single sitting. If you would like more details on something or another, do request in the comments and I'll add that to my final post. Thanks for reading, do share.

Part 3 goes up on Thursday. You can check back, subscribe by email, or subscribe to this page's Facebook feed to get notified too. There's me on Twitter, too.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Bible. Why you should read your Bible.

After reading what The Candid Tin man had to say about the Bible on his blog, I felt a disappointed man. In my opinion, the candid Tin man had committed the same errors of omission and commission that have plagued the Bible for centuries.

In the beginning, the Roman Catholic church was the dominant church worldwide, and the bible existed in Latin language which common folk like me and you did not understand. Latin was a dead language used by the priests of the roman Catholic church and perhaps a few scholars.

The Roman Catholic church aimed at controlling the public's opinion , as the church still does today, and especially their opinion of what was God's word. Therefore, back then, if you needed to understand God's word, you had to consult the Roman Catholic Priests to read the Bible for youa nd then tell you what it said. How well they did this and their intentions remained questionable, with accusations directed at the Roman Catholic Church for mistranslating The Bible…

The bitter story of the downfall of Mumias Sugar company

Have you heard the bitter story of Mumias Sugar?

Regarded by many as Kenya's most successful sugar miller, Mumias Sugar Company was a disaster waiting to happen.

Many pointed out how Mumias Sugar Company was a fortress in the wreck that is Kenya's sugar industry, only unaware that it was just a matter of time. As the old wise men said, "Ukiona cha mwenzako cha nyolewa, tia chako maji".

The proverb means that if you see your neighbour's head getting shaved, your head will soon be undergoing the same - you'd therefore better wet your head for a smoother shave, otherwise you will be forced to undergo a painful, dry, shave.

But what ails Kenya's sugar industry?

The Kenya sugar industry is under legal siege. The typical Kenyan issue of coming up with laws to tackle a problem is evident here.

Many of Kenya's sugar factories are owned by the government, and have slowly declined under mismanagement and corruption. The appointing of political cronies and trib…

Tuskys Bread Versus Ukwala Sukuma Wiki

Ukwala is a relatively cheapaffordable supermarket. The exact same good sold in Nakumatt, Tuskys and Ukwala chain of stores will most of the time cost less in Ukwala. For example, I was recently looking at a Kenpoly Plastic rack that comes with 3,4,5 or 6 compartments that I saw in a friends house.

My friend, wait, colleagues says that the rack set him slightly more than kshs 2000 at Nakumatt. It is quite a good looking rack and adds up to the spruced up appearance of his house.Why he doesn't have a girlfriend beats me.n This is not to say I have one, neither do I deny.Also,my house is the equivalent of the Commonwealth Games in India,something a relative once described as a dustbin, and for this reason , "No Visitors" policy remains.

Back to the Kenpoly rack, the rack is available in most Nakumatt stores and at least one Ukwala store that I visited. As for Tuskys, I have never figured how they operate big stores that competing stores beat when it comes to variety. For t…

The Idle Life of a Regular Kenyatta University Student.

My education life was quite an active one, till I completed the 8.4. part of 8.4.4. I went to good primary schools, with tuition in class 6-8 and boarding in class 7 & 8. My life in primary was quite full, esp with tuition in class 7 & 8.I passed KCPE and was admitted to a good National School in Nairobi. My High School life was divided into 3 months holiday and 9 months schooling per year, except for 4th form where i spend I had a 1 month holiday between January and November. I was therefore well occupied for the first 12 years of my education.

After sitting for my Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education(KCSE) in November 2004, I had to wait for results till March 2005. I was well above the B+ university cut off. Previously in early 2004, we had chosen universities and courses we would like to attend by filling the Joint Admissions Board forms. After the results were out in early 2005, we had to wait till August 2005 for the 2004 KCSE lot to change their university and cours…

25

Well, it has been quite a while since I last posted anything here, or even visited this blog. Yet another proof that the blog is quite boring that it does not warrant my visiting it. As for me not updating it, I could have blamed the numerous blackouts, or even blamed the alcohol(proliferation of Chang’aa in Kenya).

But here is a perfect reason that I was not blogging. See, I come form a very green area in Kenya called Mwingi. O.k. , I now admit that it is a dry area often plagued by drought , but the area is quite green due to the continuous rains in Kenya starting last November. In case you are wondering, neither drought, rain or lush greenery is to blame for my failure to blog. A more closer fit would be the constitutional system of the country. See I come from Mwingi south , a constituency that was once split from Mwingi constituency. Before the split, Mwingi constituency had its M.P. as Kalonzo Musyoka , the country’s V.P. Kalonzo Musyoka is still the M.P. for Mwingi North. Rece…