Saturday, January 15, 2011

collective urban landscape project: Bole

Bole, Addis Ababa,Ethiopia

On a 2009 Fulbright-Hays, I made Ethiopia my home for a summer during the rainy season. This landscape was the commercial center in our neighborhood, Bole. Populated with livestock, tailors, and businesses, it was considered one of the nicest neighborhoods in Addis Ababa. Construction seemed in progress all of the time, and it always amazed me the geometries of the climb to high rises. The neighborhood had a constant aroma of burning wood and incense. Women cooked corn on the street on small grills, and the smell of rain was fresh in the air. We walked to dinner in blackouts, avoiding uneven roads, the intonations of Amharic in our ears. On church observances, we watched the pilgrims clad in white gabi process. The women kissed church steps, miracles in the film on their lips. One of my fondest memories was watching a car break down in the middle of the street, and instantly, everyone rushed to help the man fix his car. If only we all had such a community sense of responsibility.

Bonnie MacAllister, Philadelphia, PA.

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