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Arada-Piassa Fighting from a Grave

Arada-Piassa _ Ethiopian News

By Yared Haile-Meskel

A new exhibition in Birmingham, England aims to shed light on the recent demolition of Arada-Piassa, the historic heart of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The exhibition, titled “Remembering Arada – a new exhibition on the demolition of Addis Ababa’s city centre in Birmingham” will be held from March 7 to 18, 2024, at the Birmingham City Hall.

The exhibition is a timely response to the ongoing demolition of more than 100 years old buildings in Addis Ababa that have resulted in the “destruction of the soul of the city,” as described by Dr. Di Nunzio, an associate professor of Urban Anthropology,  who has extensively studied Addis Ababa.

“The destruction of Arada is something that should concern us all,” said Dr. Di Nunzio. “It is about the tragic impact of large-scale demolitions on communities, livelihoods, and individuals. This is unfortunately a common story in Addis Ababa. These kinds of interventions in the urban form are the result of a lack of imagination about how we can make our cities more just and livable for residents.”

The article states “many residents were reported to have had little to no warning before their homes and businesses were demolished.”

“Arada has recently made international headlines, as a drive to regenerate the area has resulted in devastation, with the historic soul of the city being completely demolished in March this year,” Dr. Di Nunzio said.

The exhibition is expected to attract visitors and generate further research on the subject. It serves as a cautionary tale, highlighting the need for inclusive and thoughtful urban planning that considers the needs and perspectives of local communities.

“The destruction of the soul of the city” is not a kind word that academics often use if they don’t mean it. So the million-dollar questions are: how come that anyone in the Addis Ababa municipality failed to see that or became complicit in the destruction of the soul of the city?

Why the academics who claim to have PhD’s talk for hours about town planning have nothing  to say?

Why was there no consultation with the experts, the community, and the elected representatives of the people of Addis Ababa? Was there a debate on the issue? In the coming years, there will be even more questions, such as the motive behind it. It may also lead to the allocation of blame and criminal inquiry, such as the abuse of power and decisions taken without proper consultation and legal framework. Who really has the constitutional right to demolish all or part of Addis Ababa? 

Of course, the exhibition serves as a reminder that the preservation of a city’s heritage and the well-being of its residents should be at the forefront of urban development efforts. And many more articles and books will be written using Addis Ababa as a test case?

The story of Arada-Piassa’s demolition will undoubtedly continue to be a subject of discussion and research, serving as a cautionary tale for urban planners and policymakers worldwide.

We may get scared to say what it is for the fear of repression but individuals responsible for the demolition of Arada-Piassa will be remembered for their lack of foresight and disregard for the city’s historic and cultural significance.

The lesson we learn are two:

First,  when politicians think and act like rulers rather than servants of the people, they often fail to consult the people to benefit from the collective wisdom of the community, leading to decisions that can have long-lasting, detrimental effects.

The second lesson is that rulers do not select how to be remembered. Every king and President wants to be remembered for the good thing he or she accomplished. But History records everything and allocates one significant impact that remains in the minds of the populace. For example, Yodit Gudit may have done many good things in her 40-year rule, but she is remembered for one thing only. That is your guess is as good as mine.

Editor’s note : Views in the article do not necessarily reflect the views of


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