By Leyou Tameru
Bahir Dar, Ethiopia - Bahir Dar is quite the city. It’s got a beautiful lake, Lake Tana, great weather and great fish. It has great hotels, lodges, cafes overlooking the lake that are so beautiful and relaxing to sit and enjoy a drink or a meal by. You can even sit there and enjoy the lovely experience of an everyday miracle: a sunset. You can also enjoy a long walk on pedestrian walkways made of cobblestone that give the city such an old feel, older than it actually is. My favorite part is the amount of bikers in the city. It really is nice to just rent one and discover the city while riding on a bike.
I found the city to be so appealing for many reasons. The fact that biking is a viable option as a means of transportation, the fact that there are clearly paved walkways and most of all the lovely weather created in me a feeling of calm and peace. The one thing I really loved and was able to see everywhere is romance. It may have something to do with the scenery available in the city, or with something that I can’t quite identify, but the number of couples on dates simply walking down the street or in a café/restaurant is noticeably high. These couples are not shy about their romance and make no effort to hide it be it day or night. Come to think of it, Bahir Dar is not the only city where romance is in the air, same can be said of Gondar and Hawassa. This got me wondering, how about Addis?
Besides the whole city dressing in red, buildings included, for valentine’s, a day that can arguably be called the symbolic day of romance, there very little romance in our city. Granted, you will see couples holding hands and walking at night but that’s about it. You will certainly see couples spending time together in bars and night clubs, but who really considers that as romantic?
So, it’s with the utmost curiosity that I ask who or what is responsible for the lack of romance in Addis?
There are very little, if any, open spaces like parks and gardens where lovers can simply sit and enjoy each other’s company. And if you really want to enjoy a walk with your date during the day, you’ll start feeling the thick dark smoke coming out of cars early on in your walk. Should we blame the municipality for not maintaining the esthetic of our city, thereby killing any prospect of romantic setting?
I am asking this question not for the mere fact of pondering on romanticism, but because I can see how these other romantic Ethiopian cities benefit from and capitalize on it. Think about it, how many tourists come to visit Addis? Besides Mercato, the largest open market in Africa, and a few not so well maintained museums, Addis really isn’t the sight to see. My argument is that this can and should change. Although it will be difficult for the city to compete with the historic sight and geographic beauties that our country has to offer, it does not mean that there are no hidden gems in the city. As a 125 year old city, Addis has some interesting history, architecture and many other things to offer.
Midst all of the construction, I certainly hope that our municipality has saved some space for some green area, a few benches where one, or two, can sit and simply watch the city go by. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be if there were bike trails where one could discover the city or simply exercise without the fear of being hit by a car? Having an open space is not just for tourists or lovers, but for the city dwellers whose majority will live in apartments and will desperately need to find outdoor spaces where they can enjoy the weather.
My fear is that Addis is becoming one of those cities where it’s all work, i.e. buildings and more buildings, and no fun, i.e. outdoor space or green area, and that’s simply not healthy!
Source: Ethiopian Reporter