Top 5 Jewels of Addis Ababa’s Street Life


There are many people out there who are playing very important role on the streets of Addis Ababa. We pass them by everyday, usually use their services and take them for granted.  Their determination, passion and hard work can be huge lesson to us all and they are Addis’s unsung heroes.  Since the streets of Addis Ababa wouldn’t feel complete without them, I think celebrating these hidden jewels is appropriate.

Shoe Shiners: We Ethiopians calls them ‘Listro’.  You can find them at every corner in Addis.  They are enthusiastic and passionate boys. They clean up your shoes even make it look like brand new from 3birr-6birr price depending on your choice of service, like just wiping out the dust to cleaning it with shoes cream. Peoples of Addis are obsessed with clean and shinning shoes; of course besides the fact being judged by your shoes is the fact in this city. So spotting many people by the shoes shiners stand is one of the scenes of Addis Ababa.

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From all the success stories of Addis Ababa, you can’t help think about this particular story regarding shoe shiners.  It is the story of Ethiopian legendary singer Mohamed Ahmed was ‘Listro’ when he was a kid and proudly talks about it when every time he gets the chance and inspires all.

Newspaper Boys: To catch up with the latest news in Addis or to enjoy local Magazines, they are the one to go.  They just don’t stand on the street they also walk around café’s and business places and reach out their customers.

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They told me about their memorable moments in selling out newspapers in Addis Ababa but the one that strikes them the most and will never forget was how the local sports newspapers sold like hot cakes specially for the past few months because of the fact that the Ethiopian National Team qualified for the African cup of nations after 31 years and how Addis Ababa is so passionate about Foot Ball.

Lottery Boys: If you ever want to try your luck in Addis they are the only ones to go to.  People call them “Lottery” and they walk around the street asking people to try their luck so that they can get their 10% from every sell they make. They are the ones that witnessed many people getting lucky and rejoice like crazy.

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They are selling from instant lottery that can make you win 50,000 birr on the dot to the ones that can make you millionaire in Addis Ababa. Right now, there is one big lottery that they are selling so devotedly.

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Its drawn date is after 20 days and can make you win 2, 00000 birr so they convinced me to try my luck with their irresistible smile and twinkling eyes Wish Me Luck!

CD Boys: Entertainment in Addis! Well CD boys are fully armed.  Beside all the CDs they hold in their both hands. They carry back bag just to make sure that their customers get what ever they want from them.

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They sell local artists new, old albums, and local movies.  They also shared one entertaining story with me they told me how Addis Ababa went crazy that the day the famous Teddy Afro’s album released and that they will never forget how they quickly sold it and still on demand.

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That’s true I was one of those people who was waiting in line to get the “Tikur Sew” album by Teddy Afro (Tewodros Kassahun) was and still amazing!

Book Boys: You can’t really miss them on the street of Addis, they carry piles of books and walking around to serve their customers who are into reading. They sell creative works of Ethiopian poets and writers. You can see determination on their face and they are readers too because you can spot them reading whenever they get chance to sit for a while, they really know about the books they are selling.

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There is success story when it comes to book boys also, it’s about this boy who started as selling books on the streets of Addis Ababa few years ago and now owns his own little books store.

This was one of my journeys on giving homage to ordinary, the one which I was being able to see the extraordinary in it, learn, had great time and Inspired!

About Sara Genene

I am a traveler... on an endless journey of self-discovery!
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