It was last Saturday. What would have passed as a routine morning turned into a reminiscence of the 1980s. I had to attend a graduation ceremony in Qera. It first brought some sweet memories with the proceedings of my own from college.

As I was heading to Qera, the thought of traversing for the first time the two-lane tunnel and the two interchanges brought wonderment; as it tumbles its notorious traffic congestion, that at times used to be so dense and thus beyond movement.

First came Sishu, the burger heaven, now almost assumed a landmark, and what the completion of the highway means to it. Being around only for some years there, it has attained a legend and it is immediately baffling why other businesses do not copy its model (especially the burgers).

Then, a nostalgic turn, as I bitterly started to get apprehensive about what may be left of the Qera I used to know, where I resided for a little while as a college student and for the first four years after graduating. It was also where my office was located.

This is what comes to mind when I think of Qera. It is the traffic and the disorderly and uncontrolled herd of cattle heading for the slaughterhouses, goaded by the mostly young cattle herders. There is dust, mud, noise and smell. Sometimes there is running away from agitated bulls on the loose. An abattoir’s hard to put in plain words terrible stench and the deafening blast within reach of Bole Airport during landings and takeoffs are all the makeup of Qera.

It was amidst the maze of continuous alleys fronted by a number of little restaurants whose windows vaunted raw meat that I started reminiscing about the lone secondhand bookshop I knew there. Some of the books of the place are so dear to the bookshelf in my house. It was a place that made me reverse the vow we had after school never to read as we had enough of it languishing under its brunt for school. It took me a year to thoroughly understand that I graduated but was not yet built. I then mostly spent the evening with a good book rather than the disquieting news from the radio.

Almost as if I had tears of happiness in my eye, we crossed one of the tunnels. Yet, immediately the news of the unacceptable number of fatal accidents involving animals and humans, and the need to weave the landmark with its surrounding societal fabric, especially with the nearby abattoir, its biological stock supply and the many lively hoods depending on it, woke me from my reverie.

The Tocqueville effect asserts that social frustration grows more quickly as social conditions and opportunities improve. Alexis de Tocqueville observed the history of France, Europe and the United States and concluded something along the line of the aphorism, "the appetite grows by what it feeds on." Two millennia ago, the Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes, claimed to be his time’s combination of Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, devised the drill, pulley, windlass, and screw of Archimedes, among many other inventions. However, he reportedly thought little of these ingenious contrivances, even declining to leave most of them written records.

He instead preferred to be remembered for his great work in mathematics or for his founding of the science of hydrostatics, which his Archimedean principle made possible, overjoyed with its discovery that he forgot his clothes and ran out into the streets naked, astonishing passersby with his shouts of “Eureka, eureka!”

The human appetite for Eureka can never be satisfied and thus the business of making it will never come to an end. Qera has changed, probably into something better. But the nostalgia is strong and whatever new is built makes us want more. For the time being, I told myself on my way through, I would enjoy the sights and sounds.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 30,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1161]

Tadesse Tsegaye (, a polyglot with experience in multicultural-cum-institutional settings in resources management.

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