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Like the years that had gone by before, the elapsed 2007 Ethiopian year had its own special story: the fifth round of national election that left oppositions without winning a single parliamentary seat, the official visit of Barack Hussein Obama, the third international Financing For Development conference that took place taken in Adiss Ababa, the inhuman slaughtering more than a dozen Ethiopians by ISIS, the shortage of the regular winter rain, the release of bloggers journalists days before president Obama’s visit to Ethiopia, ending of the first chapter of GTP I which missed its target by considerable amount transferring many assignments to GTP II, were some of the landmark actualities.
Calendars are revised as the old year elapses out and the New Year sets in: fiscal calendars, date calendars, personal calendars, and many more calendars budget one’s plans in time-bound chunks.
Traditionally, new year in Ethiopia is not time only celebration, but it is a sign of the end of the rainy season (that has mostly a depressing felling), it is a time for laying out plans for the time ahead (lively like that warm sun that will resume shining again). It has become quite natural that people will plan major changes in their lives to kick off with the new year, and with the new sun too. For these and many more reasons, New Year is one of the most colorfully celebrated holidays, and most hopeful one too.
New year is a time for dedication too. Usually, people make sure they spend adequate special time with families and friends on new year. People invite relatives and friends to their houses to be part of the family celebrations. Special, grand-dinning-together moments are arranged at noon or in evenings, and delicious traditional dishes are prepared. On top of this, many communal celebrations are also organized. These ‘special time together’ moments have a far reaching importance in the society, reinforcing the intimate bondage constantly.
Most of the clubs and restaurants organize vibrant New Year’s Eve celebrations, putting special consideration on the entertainment. Usually, Live music performances are organized. Some big clubs and restaurants even bring in famed local and foreign artists to sing for the music frenzy customers in real time.
Addis Ababa had hosted superb and grand New Year’s Eve celebrations before. Hometown to some of the biggest nightclubs, tourist places, and other classy restaurants and hotels, one has a vast selection of entertainment to be part of the big stage new year eve celebrations. Seasonal inflation has also become one of the markers of New Year. Prices go unimaginably creasy when new year, and by large a holiday, arrives. Chicken that was sold between 150 to 200 birr had gone up by a 100 birr on average than it was around the past new year. Although the recent proclamation that obliges the issuance receipts for cattle sale was feared to push up the price of oxen, prices are not much exaggerated momentarily. An ox is sold from 15,000 birr up to 25,000 birr depending on its size. Butter prices remained steady costing from 260 up to 300 birr a kilo. Eggs sold for 4 birr, showing a 0.50 cents increment compared with the basic price.
According to The Central Statistical Agency’s report, the August food inflation is higher by 14 percent than the same period last year. The over exaggerate hikes observed on the prices of red peeper and lentils, that begun going up about three months ago, seem never to come down. Red pepper, which is the main ingredient in many Ethiopian dishes and especially holiday meals, shot up to 180-200 birr per kilo this year from its usual price of 50 up to 100. And its production is down by 20 percent, from 2.5 million quintals to 1.7 million quintals in a year time.
The new year has also heralded the beginning of GTP II. Though unsuccessfully by many measures, GTP I had registered some achievements. For example, the targeted one billion dollars income from textile and garment export and another 1.7 billion dollars from leather and leather products export was achieved under 50 percent, USD 678 million being generated by the textile sector and the industry sector brought in below USD 500 million, short falling the target of USD 3 billion by two thirds. Yet optimism did not die out with the old year for some. Abrhem Akililu, who invested in manufacturing, is of the view that the government could attain better results in the coming year. “I hope this will be a better year for Ethiopia. I’m somewhat optimistic that the country will have a good year driven by the growth in agriculture, mining, industry and tourism sectors.’’
“There are a lot of things that we need to work on really hard. Problems like power interruption, infrastructure, bureaucracy in government offices, and corruption are the things that we should fight out. We have seen some good changes like the window the government opens for the diaspora to have a role Ethiopia’s development. This kind of work must be appreciated and continued.’’
However, the waves of optimism did not vibrate for some. For the likes of Tamrate Fasil, the agonizing headache of being not able to get shelter and enough food continue to be number one issues that roll over with the turn of the year.
“There are hundreds of thousand people who are waiting to receive their condos but the lottery is drawn only for a small number of houses. House rent increases every month and every year; transportation problem intensifies every time; food prices increase blindly and the population increase drastically. So the government must do more to give answers to poor people’s question.”
Tamrate divulges what itches him and his wish for the new year.