I inquired from a friend who recently made it to Addis Abeba what observation sticks out to her during a recent meet-up.

Coming from a part of the world with steady weather, she was caught off guard with the erratic oscillation from sunny to cloudy and windy to rainy days.

Further observations were compounded by debris from construction sites where loose items were left unattended. She cited that these are major safety hazards and obstructions to pedestrians.

It is unfortunate but accurate.

In a rapidly growing city where a lot of construction is underway at any given time, not all sites are properly managed, and remains are often left unattended.

It is concerning to see dismal consequences for institutions that leave manholes exposed to the public where many have sustained injuries and it is possible that there have even been fatalities due to the depth.

My friend remarked that people are preoccupied with making ends meet while concern for common good, sense of moral duty and justice had taken a back seat. She confided that the caring and considerate populace she knew back then seemed from a bygone era.

Her honest observation validated what I felt for quite some time. I tried to fathom the underlying issues which are emblematic of deeply rooted problems; from imprudence to the rule of law and apathy.

Our conversation underscored that individualism has become increasingly prevalent in a society where unpredictability is not limited to the weather but people's behaviour.

It was alarming to learn that intolerance to different opinions and radically extreme, unvalidated views about issues and current affairs is observed by both of us.

Apart from individualism, established institutions to ensure the smooth flow of life matters are susceptible to a predominant sense of insensitivity to others.

While in a prolonged search for a prescription that was out of stock in a state pharmacy recently, I was fortunate enough to find it at a private institution. However, my relief was short-lived when I discovered that the selling price was eightfold higher than the state pharmacy.

Shocked and bewildered, I reconfirmed the price, only to be assured with a kind smile that I got the best deal. I had to grapple with the obscenely exaggerated price when the pharmacist further claimed that he was doing me a favour by selling me the medicine since he had saved it for someone else.

I could not believe the justification and did not know whether to laugh or be angry. Had this scenario been in a comedy movie or sitcom, I would have burst out laughing. But when it happened to me, I felt powerless and compelled.

I chose to accept his distorted version of reality as I needed the medicine urgently. I purchased it and even thanked him on my way out.

The unscrupulous pharmacist had a history of exploiting patients in need of his assistance to line his pockets with ill-gotten gains. It may be foolish to wonder whether he sleeps soundly at night, but judging from his demeanour, I suppose he does.

Another area where the sense of impunity is most exemplified is the adulteration of food items, particularly dairy products where mixing it with water for more profits seems the modus operandi.

Someone might be considered naive for expecting to get an unadulterated dairy product.

Even more frightening is consumers accepting this as the status quo. This sense of contentment, exemplified by my acceptance of the medicine price, showcases a force beyond their power.

Regardless, it is refreshing to see some people decide to make an honest living by playing fair.

I came across a dairy shop around the Ayat area where people queue in endless lines reminiscent of passengers at the light railway station. I was bemused by their persistence and decided to check the product for myself and bought about a litre of milk and some yoghurt.

Tasting the rich and creamy milk and yoghurt, it was no longer an enigma. I realised how far from the natural flavour of milk I was due to the spectrum shifting to adulterated products.

It was heartwarming to know that all is not doom and gloom and that some semblance of hope exists. Honesty is the best policy, and rightly so; from the extremely long queue and high customer turnout at the dairy shop, I observed that the clean way was more profitable.

Short-lived exploitation is not sustainable, and living on the wrong side of the law will eventually lead one to culpability and end up behind bars.

Although it may seem like foolhardiness to those who lack a moral compass, I believe living with integrity, trusting the system and resisting the urge to cut corners pays off. Time unveils the truth as treachery and deceit melt away like the morning dew.

Although the life matters in Addis Abeba are not ideal, I choose to see the glass half full.

The city is a vibrant and dynamic metropolis, brimming with potential and promise. There are resilient citizens, innovative businesspeople and dedicated administrators who toil to steer it in a positive direction, despite the opposite persists.

In stark contrast to the fictional Gotham City, which is depicted as a morally bankrupt and irredeemable cesspool of corruption and decadence- a city of madness, where the insane run free and the sane hide in fear, Addis Abeba retains a glimmer of hope, although not immune to the challenges that come with rapid growth and urbanisation.

It may take time and effort, but with the support of its bright and ambitious youth, the city is poised to emerge from its problems like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

State governance plays a major role, while societal values and unwritten rules contribute. Only then can Addis Abeba live up to its name.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 07,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1223]

Bereket Balcha works in the aviation industry and is passionate about fiction writing and can be reached at (bbalcha5@yahoo.com)

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Put your comments here

N.B: A submit button will appear once you fill out all the required fields.

Editors' Pick