The Changing Face of Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa is changing. Everywhere you look there is a new building going up, roads being dug up and improved and whole neighborhoods disappearing. This is unfortunately what growth looks like. We make way for the new by clearing up the old. However, while doing that we are also losing out on some of the beauty that history has?

In all of my travels, the cities that have the most charm and appeal are the ones that have been able to retain part of their history. Will Addis lose the charm it has?

Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts. ~ Arnold Bennett

On another side of it, Addis is still relatively young in its modernity. I was recently looking at some pictures on Facebook from a community,  that has been posting up historical pictures of Ethiopia. What is clear in these pictures is that it was in the 1960s and 70s that much of the modern infrastructure was actually created.

Megenanya at Sunset

Since those times, the city has grown immensely. In fact, the past 7 years living in Addis Ababa has been transformational. The picture on this post is of Megenanya taken almost 4 years ago. It is the first HDR panoramas that I created and I think was relatively successful. It is also one of the images that I have sold the most of and had to ask the most cease and desists as well.

I have given this photo to my wife for her cafe where it is printed on A1 size print. It is also one of the images that people give to others as gifts, either for their homes or their offices. If you’re interested in owning this picture you can purchase in on the online print shop.

I remember the day that I took it I was with my friend Azi, of Enzi fame, and we were taking some pictures of the city. We were being bold and walked up to this construction site and said that we were press. Azi had press credentials so it was not a total lie. We talked our way to the top floor and stood gazing out at the city.

We spent the entire sunset up on that rooftop and I must have taken over 150 pictures. Of those, I ended up with only two really good images. The one above and a much wider panorama that you can see on our company’s website. Either way, what is very clear in the picture is that the face of the city is changing.

Change is Evident

When processing the image I noticed that there was so much hidden in the depths of the pixels. Zoom into certain areas and you’ll see people peeing on the streets, animals in the middle of the road and huge construction works going on. If I took this same picture today, while it might be recognizable, the pace of change will be evident.

Either way, what is very clear in the picture is that the face of Addis Ababa is changing. We are going to be seeing less and less of the ramshackle neighborhoods and more high rises. We are going to have more cars and mass transit and fewer donkeys and sheep on the streets. Things will change and the city will grow.

Personally, I can’t see any other way for this to go. We face change all the time. This blog itself is evidence of my change and the hopeful growth that goes along with it. Enjoy the journey, embrace the change and the discomfort that might come along with it.