Ethiopia – Addis Ababa Social Club

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Addis Ababa was called the “swinging city” during the Sixties and the Seventies, when traditional highland melodies met soul music and hippie culture came into the scene. That “Golden Age” was a small mine for World music. Today the new diamond is Samuel Yirga, a young piano player. His album Guzo -produced by Peter Gabriel’s Real World label- is a “journey” into Ethiopian musical tradition driven by a modern jazz musician. Together with Alemayo Eshete, an old Ethiopian music lion with evergreen spirit and energy, they play at “Jazzamba”, Addis most famous jazz-club. Among soul, rhytmn’blues and folk they could be the mirror of a nation which smiles to modernity keeping to its cultural roots. Included by Lonely Planet in the list of the 10 World’s Top Cities to visit, Addis is the symbol of African renaissance. A swinging city struck by a sudden “progress”: foreign investments, skyscrapers, social housing, a new surface city railways. But even slums clearing, the fear of a new classism, fading traditions. The city is experiencing a massive urban expansion, evolving at a fast pace. Its population is expected to rise from 3milions in 2010 up to 8milions in 2025. In order to cope with the housing emergency in a city where 80% is classified as “slum”, in 2005 Ethiopian Federal Government has started a Social Housing Program, building new “condominiums” for a middle class which however is not yet consistent. The gap between rich people, who drive expensive cars and haunt the rapidly rising malls, and the poor ones, struggling below the official poverty line, is widening. An economic growth between 8 and 10 per cent of the GDP in the latest 15 years (one of the highest rates in Africa), the outstanding achievement in schooling (almost 100%) and in infant mortality (decreased by 40% since 2000), wait in Ethiopia to be paired by a more equitable wealth distribution.

 

Meskel square, main Addis Ababa squareNew Bole road from Dembel city centreSamuel Yirga, new Ethio-jazz star. His album Guzo -produced by Peter Gabriel's Real World label- is a “journey” into Ethiopian musical tradition driven by a modern jazz musicianArat Kilo squareDerg monument. The Communist Party ruled Ethiopia between 1974 and 1987. At that time musicians and other artists couldn't performe abroadGround cleared in front of the Sheraton hotel (on the back). Top luxury hotel in Addis, it's ownership of Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi, who relocated the families removed to new suburb condominiumsAlemayehu Eshete performing at Selam music festival. During the Seventies he was called the Ethiopian Elvis PresleyOn the way to MerkatoA group of miskin people occupied again part of the ground in front of the Sheraton hotelA miskin family who recently occupied the ground in front of the Sheraton hotelWalking along the border of the area cleared in front of the Sheraton hotelAlemayeo Eshete and Samuel Yirga performing at JazzambaJazzamba, Addis most famous jazz clubWaiters uniforms shop in BoleCoffee shop in Wube BrahaPolo match at Jalmeda Park. Addis is the home of a great bourgeois awakeningBabur railway in Atekilit Tera area. When completed the train will cover a total length of 35 km. It is expected to transport more than 80,000 passengers per hourMahmoud Ahmed performing at Selam music festivalGabriella Ghermandi performing at the Italian Cultural Institute in AddisPiassaInformal settlement already cleared in Arat KiloKechene valleyErii BekentuGirma Negash, one of the major Ethiopian singer during the Seventies. Today he works as school-bus driverAxum Hall. During the Seventies it was one of the major Ethio-jazz clubs. Today the same building hosts a pentacostal churchGulleleArat Kilo condosArat Kilo work in progressChurchil roadThe building site of the new African Union hallSami and Alemayo performing at JazzambaSami performing at Alliance ethio-francaiseItegue Taitu hotel, the oldest hotel in Ethiopia. Here come together musicians, painters, travelers, poets and the city's cultural vanguardAn informal settlement in Piassa which will be cleared soonMetro Mexico work-in-progressOld bulding survived in Churchil road area. On the back the Eliana mallAddis Ababa National Theatre

Addis Abeba veniva chiamata la “swinging” tra i Sessanta e i Settanta, quando le melodie tradizionali degli altopiani incontrarono il soul e la cultura hippie arrivò con i pantaloni a zampa d’elefante. Quella “Golden Age” fu una piccola miniera d’oro per il mondo della World music. Oggi la capitale diplomatica dell’Africa è il simbolo del rinascimento africano. Una città swinging colpita da improvviso “progresso”: investimenti stranieri, grattacieli, edilizia popolare, una metropolitana di superficie. Ma anche baracche rase al suolo, la paura di un nuovo classismo, tradizioni che sbiadiscono. Samuel Yirga è un giovane pianista molto attacato alle sue radici, una nuova stella nel firmamento della World music moderna. Alemayo Eshete è un vecchio leone della musica etiopica. Suonano insieme al “Jazzamba”, il più famoso jazz-club della capitale. Tra soul, rhytmn’blues e folk potrebbero essere lo specchio di una nazione che sorride alla modernità rimanendo attaccata alle sue radici. Inserita dalla Lonely Planet tra le 10 città più interessanti da visitare al mondo, Addis è il simbolo del rinascimento africano. La capitale diplomatica dell’Africa vive una trasformazione straordinaria per la sua rapidità. Dai 3milioni d’abitanti del 2010, la popolazione dovrebbe raggiungere gli 8milioni entro il 2025. Per far fronte all’emergenza abitativa di una città coperta per l’80% da slum, nel 2005 il governo federale ha avviato la costruzione di migliaia di condomini, pensati per una classe media che però stenta ancora a formarsi. Il divario tra una minoranza di ricchi, che girano su macchine lussuose e riempiono i sempre più numerosi centri commerciali, e la maggior parte degli abitanti, che ancora aspetta di lasciarsi alle spalle la soglia ufficiale della povertà, si fa sempre più profondo. La crescita economica registrata dall’Etiopia negli ultimi 15 anni (tra l’8 e il 10 per cento del Pil, uno dei tassi più alti dell’intera Africa) e i successi riportati in campi come quello della scolarizzazione (ormai vicina al 100%) e della mortalità infantile (ridotta del 40% dal 2000), attendono di essere accompagnati da una più equa distribuzione della ricchezza.

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