When I taught spoken English I would open my class by having students introduce themselves. I would ask them about their hobbies and they would almost always tell me the same three things; talking with friends, going to a movie or going to bars and nightclubs.
Thinking more about it I realized that these really were the major ways to pass free time in Addis. You almost always see long lines at the few movie theaters in Addis and Cafés are often full, mind you at any time of the day. It is very hard to find a seat anywhere, say in Cafes around Piassa, especially after 5:00 PM. And it is not uncommon to see people drinking draught beer even in the middle of the afternoon, while the few nightclubs in the city are often packed in week nights.
The gleaming lights of bars and nightclubs are parts of the beauty of Addis Ababa at night.
But it might not surprise you to know that many teenagers are regular customers of these flourishing establishments. I believe this is mainly because of the lack of other entertainment options during the day. I know there is a regulation against underage drinking in the country but many bars and clubs don’t seem to care if you are under age as long as you have the money for their service. Finding my under age students at night clubs and seeing them completely drunk was a shocking experience. No wonder they are lacking interest in school and have no vision to pursue.
The other major problem that gives me the shudders about the night life is people driving around the city while they shouldn’t even be walking. For some reason we still haven’t comprehended how deadly it is to drive after drinking alcohol. The majority of accidents are recorded to happen between 10:00PM to 2:00AM at night and mostly caused by drunk drivers. Drinking and driving remains one of the greatest problems in Addis, and it’s about time that some strong measures are taken against it.
Another notable negative image is prostitution, which is becoming one of the most expanding businesses in the city of Addis. With a flourishing night life also comes the flourishing of ladies or gentlemen who sell sex for money. Addis Ababans weren’t used to seeing prostitutes in the streets till very late with the exception of some specific places. But today you will see them out and about looking for business as early as 7:00pm. Most of these commercial sex workers are engaged in this livelihood because they believe it is the only way they can make a living. Efforts of some NGOS and government offices working in collaboration to rehabilitate them, by providing short and long term training and turn them into a productive part of the society, has proven to be absolutely possible, and hence should be applauded and encouraged.
Like Maslow argued in his hierarchy of needs, once people’s basic needs are met they can focus on other things like entertainment. Not only does having fun lead to psychological health it also develops creativity, cooperation and reduces stress.
Obviously entertainment is discretionary to income and not everyone can afford all the possible options but in Addis it seems there is a dearth of recreational opportunities. In many other countries there are a diverse number of healthy ways that people can pass their time and in many cases they are affordable to the masses. For example in many nations you will find places with parks where people can safely jog, bike or walk, play at recreational facilities, or hear affordable concerts but seldom do you find this in Addis.
Addis Ababa is one of the most rapidly developing cities in the world. The federal government and the city administration along with a large number of local and international investors are scrambling and developing every little spot of the city. These projects are creating jobs, visions and dreams in the hearts of many.
It is time we wake up and maintain a positive image about our city because that is the only way we sustain and preserve our ongoing developments. Moral standards are the foundation for the healthy development of a city or a country at large. Therefore everyone must assume the responsibility of playing their own role in eradicating every negative image and reputation that stands as an obstacle for our health and corporate development.