It was for the first time that I had an all-pedestrian lane walk. It was a cool day, thanks to an unusual cloud cover. It surprised me how a walk started as I was arguing with myself for not being out for a walk for some time, and consequently not being happy with regrets as I began to figure out the full range of benefits of walking.

My usual walkway had been rugged from not being finished for a long while. Now, it was broadened and the finishing touches are being laid. A noticeable change to the economic heartbeat of our neighbourhood, where the roads are completed, is that many shops are open in the evening, luring people out for a walk, most of the time couples. It is encouraging for a walk, the lights and the crowd creating an air of safety.

There is also beauty in pedestrian walkways. It makes holidays and special occasions (like a new restaurant opening) very eye-catching, as people of all ages come out to enjoy the various eateries. The ambience is amazing, and leaves one wondering why there cannot be a more frequent view.

The qebelesand weredascould use it as an example of how people could be incentivised to do something useful (walking) by the mere act of making something easy on the eyes. They can incentivise people to seek services and carry out their obligations by ensuring that their offices and compounds look like a more friendly environment. The private sector figured this out some time ago.

A good example is Alexander Stewart’s “cast-iron palace,” built in 1862 on New York's famed Broadway Avenue. Many early American department stores joined in and lined the cobblestoned streets to create a shopping district, which played host daily to shoppers. It was the life of that part of New York until the shopping district began to move uptown, but many of the old buildings that housed the stores still remain as historical heritage. The term window shopping is thought to have been inspired by the women who strolled by the displays these great stores designed for them.

An Aristotelian unity, the necessity for unity of action, time, and place in drama, is a gift to us from one of the greatest thinkers of all time. Aristotle had a habit of giving his lectures in the peripatos, or walking place, of the Athenian Lyceum that gave his school of philosophy the name Peripatetic, which in its turn gave way to the English word peripatetic, walking about or carried on while walking about from place to place.

Acrobat comes from the Greek akros, “aloft,” plus batos, “climbing or walking,” referring to the stunts early acrobats performed in the air, like rope walking. The supreme of the ancient Greek acrobats were called neurobats, from the Greek neuron, “sinew.” It is reported that these men performed on a sinewy rope that was only as thick as the plastic used for fishing lines today, appearing from the ground as if they were walking on air.

It is no surprise that walking has a long and rich history. But it is not well understood that many of us can learn a great deal by walking around our streets, especially officials of districts. Their offices are no match for the streets in understanding the “feel” of neighbourhoods and then deciding what is missing and what could be done. More importantly, it is about how to best serve in their work of administration along the environment that people are already comfortable with in addressing challenges. This is simple. After all, it is not walking on a sinewy rope.

PUBLISHED ON Mar 12,2022 [ VOL 22 , NO 1141]

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

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