ADDIS ABABA, THE CAPITAL OF ETHIOPIA AND ‘THE POLITICAL CAPITAL OF AFRICA’ IS A CITY OF DIVERSITY AND DIPLOMACY. HOME TO OVER THREE MILLION ETHIOPIANS SPEAKING OVER EIGHTY LANGUAGES, AND 120 INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS & EMBASSIES, ADDIS IS THE POLITICAL HUB OF AFRICA.
Founded in just 1886, Addis has experienced a tumultuous history which has included great battles, Italian occupation, monarchism, a coup d‘état followed by a communist military junta and genocide. In recent years, Addis has experienced strong stability with rapid growth and today the city is considered one of the safest in Africa.
My visit to Addis in October 2014 was my first ever visit to an African city and I had reservations. I was initially intimidated by the city’s darkness at night, combined with endless, sprawling side streets, but after a few days the true character of this city and nation started to shine through thanks to the warm and inviting attitude of Ethiopians to outsiders. Addis is city of great diversity, culture, commerce and food… it is home to the largest open air market in Africa; the Mercato.
My attitude by the time I left was one of great admiration for a nation proud of its heritage and individuality, but moreso from the prospect of being a beacon to surrounding nations in a struggling region. Ethiopia has the potential not just to be the geographical heart of Africa, but also to be a significant political and economic influence. It is by no means a perfect nation, and reform is an ongoing process, but Ethiopians have shown how embracing stability and hard work can further their nation. The Christian majority live in complete harmony with the 30% Muslim population and commerce is at the heart of this bustling 21st Century African city.