Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa and I may have started off on the wrong foot, but let me exercise some control over my thinking, and not be too negative. My experience is tainted through the one and only really negative encounter I’ve had on this journey with a local person. Unfortunately, Addis does not seem to have the charm that comes with age-old historical sites (it’s a rather young creation in this very old country) or such architectural attractions that could have made up for my frustration. Having said that, Addis Ababa’s orthodox churches and their communities of worshippers are something else, and truly stunning, and the spirit of one of the oldest Christian communities on earth makes itself felt. The churches, although rather new, are impressive enough, yet much of the town’s architecture reminded me of rather bleak socialist housing projects. Indeed, I recalled how back in my school days we collected money for socialist Ethiopia, under Mengistu it must have been. Except for some encounters with kids and some drunkards, people didn’t really compensate the absence of charm and joy which I had experienced elsewhere, notably in Dar es-Salaam. It actually started with a rather unfriendly immigration procedure (well, that’s not unheard of elsewhere), and then there was this guy …

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Bagamoyo

Its original name was bwaga moyo ‘lay down/rest your heart’, until German colonial troops invaded the East-African coast, allegedly unable to pronounce it properly. Thus it was distorted to its current form. Bagamoyo stands testimony, albeit in ruins, to centuries of global trade along the Swahili coast, with connections to Mombasa, Mogadishu, the Arabic peninsula, Persia and ultimately to China. 

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Melville

A five-minute walk from my home, and you enter Melville. It’s a beautiful suburb, many streets are lined with trees, there’s artsy decoration in the streets even, you find small charity shops as well as up-market boutiques, galleries, restaurants and clubs. Especially around 7th street and 27 Boxes, nightlife is hot as it is a major attraction for students from the numerous nearby residences and for Jo’burg’s gay community.  

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Photowalk with Chimz

Mark, of Jo’burg Photowalkers, had arranged for a meeting at Victoria Yards – a place that is currently being developed into an attractive area for artists and artisans, in the middle of town. Which can be a tricky thing in Jo’burg, not least because of crime …  when Chimz and I went to this area to go drumming with some people the night before, the taxi driver wouldn’t stop at any red light out of fear of being mugged or even shot, like one of his colleagues the previous week. So, in the company of a bunch of photo nerds, we went and explored this emerging “new Maboneng” – and loved it. And since it was a Sunday, we would later move on to the “old” Maboneng and its gorgeous market on Fox Street.

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