Salambo discovering Ethiopia
Addis used to be a green city full of lush gardens and flowers, with tall palm trees, thriving avocado trees, forever-purple jacaranda trees, deep red and fuchsia bongainvilles, aloe vera plants, etc…..All these gardens are fast disappearing with the current urban development plan, entirely focused on building as many tall concrete towers as possible. Any remaining green area is seen by avid property developers as a potential building and consequent return-on-investment. It seems that the country has been blinded by the construction fever. In the current urban plan, no green area has been included, on the contrary even the remaining parks are being destroyed.
Such is the case with Tropical Gardens in Bole, one of my favourite park or garden in the city. Tropical Gardens is a popular venue for jazz concerts and music festivals as well as the bi-annual Artisan Bazaar. It is a little green oasis in a growing residential area, with the perfect size and layout to accommodate social events, being large enough for a relatively numerous crowd but still intimate. However, in the current plan, a new road will cross the park right in the middle, thus ruining it forever.
I spent my last two weekends there, the first time to attend the Selam music festival, a popular event featuring Ethiopian and foreign musicians and sponsored mainly by the Swedish embassy, with side entertainment such as a kids circus as well as food and drinks. The whole event was so pleasant that I ended up staying late in the evening, with my two younger kids playing around with friends while I was dancing with their parents. The atmosphere was so relaxed and friendly and the park so contained that I could do so without worrying for them. Unfortunately, it was the last festival of the kind to be held there or held at all if an alternative venue cannot be found.
The same happened with Taste of Addis, an annual food festival with specialties from different countries such as India, Greece, Lebanon, Spain, to name but a few, and which at night, turns into an outdoor rave. I attended it last Saturday with my children, it got very crowded but again, the atmosphere remained friendly and very relaxed. A great shame it won’t be repeated there. Once Tropical Gardens is gone, and tall buildings start replacing blooming trees, the last oasis of green in this growing city will have disappeared. People already start complaining about the air becoming dryer and dustier, I fear it will only get worse with yet more concrete.