A Eulogy for “Sholan Geremew”

May 23, 2008 at 7:47 am 13 comments

They say the owner was a Lawyer, or “negere fej” as was called back then. A hard up business man who resumed the construction when he got money and didn’t when he didn’t. It took him more than 10 years to finish building! A fact which kept, legend has it, all of “Shola” (residents between “Qebena” and “Megenagna”), who no doubt were strangers to big buildings at that time (more than 45 years ago) in wonder. “Sholan Geremew”, the building was later dubbed. But that’s not the only reason why “Shola” was kept in wonder by the towering edifice in it’s midst. Not only did the owner die soon after, but nobody dared rent it for a long time to come. So, there it stood, looking high and mighty at the forested neighborhood beneath it, as cold & lonely as the high and mighty are always said to end up :-).

After Dergue took it, however, the top two buildings were taken by successful bachelors and the ground floor was rented out to, lemme see, a Cleaners (or laundry), a video shop which later adopted the name “Take Fun” and whose logo was drawn by my cousin Silesh who never impressed me as an artist, another Cleaners, a pastry slash café and a Kidus Gabriel clinic. Infront of which I once saw an old man crossing himself and bowing. On the bright side, he was literate! Edme LeMeserete Timhirt!

We grew up calling it “Bichaw foQ” while the adults, who witnessed its progress all their school life, kept referring to it by it’s original name. It was the coolest spot in my neighborhood when I grew up! It was the location you gave for your first “Qetero”, the place where cars dropped you off so nobody from your neighborhood would see you and where kisses were stolen before hitting ground.

And now.. there is none!

Well, almost! Herebelow is what’s left of it, front and side. No doubt about it, it’s the end of an era! Of a glorious era filled with childhood memories (both good & bad) that “will never return”, as we say in Amharic!

Which is why we fare thee well, oh your building-ness, with love and fond memories. And a promise that you’ll always remain in our hearts – just the way you were!

Sincerely,
YeShola Lijoch

The Remains of an Era!

P.S. For those of you who vaguely remember a tall “mamma” infront of British Embassy with “I love you hotel” subscribed on it’s side in a glaring paint, that ain’t it! This one was located infront of the Russian Embassy & Gene Bank.

P.S.2. Jofe Amoraw’s tribute to Sholan Geremew.

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And the winner is.. Help!

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. yonas  |  May 23, 2008 at 8:29 am

    ok, we need to see pictures of the building before its death. was it not worth a photo before its death?

  • 2. abesheet  |  May 23, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Yeah! Good question, Yonas! Something I’ll never forgive myself for not doing because I really had time. Just never got round to it (live somewhere else right now). But the Eulogy is more or less written to those who knew its before, and all those who lost something in the name of “civilization” (no pun intended) like myself. And ofcourse.. to the building itself and everything it stood for. Past tense :-). I think we should do more of that. And not just for buildings. You don’t find much information on anything Ethiopian (except, maybe, politics) on the net when you look for it. I was looking for Kuma Demekssa’s picture only the other day and the only one available with on Fortune Newspaper that i was unable to download. Same with Dr. Beyene Petros, Sileshi Demissie and derassi Bewketu Seyoum. It’s almost unbelivable.

  • 3. Totit  |  May 23, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Hey Abesheet, Have been reading ur blog for a while now…I just love love how u put those words together…great work!

  • 4. abesheet  |  May 23, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    You are too kind, Totye.

    BTW, you don’t happen to be the same Totit who used to chat with me & Daniel at Ethio.com, do you?

  • 5. Totit  |  May 23, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Well I see there is more than one Tota out there…no, that was not me…

  • 6. abyssinia  |  May 23, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    I’m sure Bichaw foQ represents experience of a lifetime to many people.

    It’s sad to see it gone!

  • 7. sira salata  |  May 23, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Abesheet,

    Hope u and ur freinds might lose that ‘ Bicha foq ‘ not the memories attached to it.
    yah….things are like this, they vanish as life goes by, with the remains of their figures in our minds.

  • 8. Dr. Ethiopia  |  May 25, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Fascinating read. I might as well have been reading about the Twin Towers. I had no idea about the history of this. Thx for educating my ever growing brain.

    lol @ one Totit saying ” I see there is more than one Tota out there”.

    Wheeeew i laughed so hard at that. How come i could never come up with names like that, i don’t know.

  • 9. tsedey  |  June 10, 2008 at 12:02 am

    As yeShola lij, I feel so sad to hear the demolition of this ‘land mark’ which I have visited several times as I knew pple who live in that bldg not to mention I vaguely recall going to the clinic at the ground level. Can’t believe it’s all gone. I remember the video shop as well but not by the late name, what was the name before that? Oh memories… thanks for sharing..

    How about “I love u hotel” is it still there or it’s gone as well?

  • 10. Tarot  |  June 20, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Tarot

  • 11. Ankami  |  January 8, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I find this post trounght Addis Journal. I appreciate the urban renewal and the architecture of Addis but I like very much the ancien arquitecture of the city. As far as I know, I think is possible talk about the specific arquitecture of Addis.
    Here in Spain, in the year of the great urban developmet (in the last yerar of Francos`s dictatorship) a lot of ancien building was fell down. Perhaps not much artistic value, but they were the cultural heritage of our peoples and cities. Speculation and greed of politicians and builders were ordered to do so. On my next trip to Addis I would like discover the secrets of the city with people like you and Arefe.

  • 12. abesheet  |  January 8, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    How true, Akami. Every time i discuss this subject, this bridge we had in my village comes to mind. When i was growing up, we had to cross it to get to the other side of the “Kebele” where my grandmother’s house {with my young aunts and uncles live} was. My father wasn’t particularly close to them so he didn’t like us going there. But when he told us we could, “the streets won’t come to an end” as they say. I run and run and run. Where do i stop? Infront of the bridge! It was made of huge tree trunks with a hole in between from where you can see the dirty water underneath jumping and dancing as if wanting to suck you in. So you usually feel dizzy and lose your balance. It happened to many a child, so we either have to wait for adults to take our hand and, telling us not to look down, help us cross it. Or go down to the shallow part of the river, which was dirty due to all the garbage that’s thrown in it. All possibilities, real or imagined, present themselves stopping you from going down there. Our parents used to tell us evil spirits lurk by that side of the river especially when the sun is hot. Even if evil spirits didn’t lurk, the smell is likely to give you a head ache. Or you’d come across a man taking dump or a bum washing his clothes nearby. Being lured into the bushes and raped was a possibility none of us were too naive to see. So we stood there, by the bridge, waiting for some one bigger and trustworthy to come and rescue us. When i got to high school, Care Ethiopia started building roads in the poor Kebeles of Addis and replaced the bridge with a cement one. I liked the new bridge, dubbed “Belete Bridge” (after the old man who supervised its progress in the day time and watched over it at night). It didn’t give me half the nightmare the other bridge did (nightmares that still haunt my sleep when my mind is stressed over something). But I miss that other bridge. When it went, it took a piece of my childhood with it. A piece i’d rather have. I know it’s a small price to pay. I certainly don’t expect the government to freeze development just so abesheet would feel nothing has changed. Still, I wish i could have both the development and the bridge of my childhood.

    Have an enjoyable trip to Addis.

  • 13. Ankami  |  January 8, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    It is a beautiful story.
    Thanks for your wishes, but I don`t know when it will be my next trip to Addis

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