Merkato – Central Market

Saturday, December 13, 2014
Addis Ababa, Mirab Shewa, Ethiopia
After a relatively good night sleep and with Genet Mengistu or
+251(0)910 666029 picking me up at 9 am, as that is when the places we are to visit open, it was a relaxed no rush breakfast.

Didn't know about the western breakfast that could be ordered as all I saw was the traditional local breakfast buffet. So it was bit of everything as my introduction to local cuisine.



left a note saying that he was joining me and that was great.

As I only had one day to see Addis, briefed Genet as to what I wanted to see eg Lucy and the Mercato plus I wasn't really a museum fan and off we went leaving her to organise the day to get us back to Ras Hotel for the 5 pm group meeting.

First stop was the Mercato / Merkato. Taking a taxi who waited for us, Genet told us which buildings that we past that we could not take pictures of eg National Palace, embassies.

Merkato is the largest open air market in Africa, covering several square miles and employing an estimated 13,000 people in 7,100 business entities. The primary merchandise passing through the Merkato is locally-grown agricultural products — most notably coffee.

The Addis Merkato was instituted by segregationist policies of the Italian occupational government. Merkato is said to have been established as a marketplace during the Italian occupation, when it was called Merkato Indigino – market of the indigenous. The intention was to marginalise the local marketers from the centre of the city, Arada Ghiorgis, which the Italians called Piazza and where they opened shops for their convenience. They restricted the historic St. George Merkato to Europeans, causing the mostly Arab tradesmen to relocate a half mile to the west. Over time, local shopkeepers displaced the Arab merchants and, since the 1960s, the Addis Merkato has had a mostly local flavor.

The Addis Merkato has over 150 stores and four massive shopping centers with 75 stores. Thanks Mr Wikipedia.

I think based on my short time there that there is well in excess of 150 stores Mr Wikipedia! Update from Genet: Apart from the real small ones, there are about 1,000 stores at the moment.

"Wide general shots" were ok so I started my candid photography with camera on either my chin or hip. It was a sea of activity as people hurried here and there trying to earn a birr or two. Traders from the rest of Ethiopia came here to stock up and take the goods back to their local markets.

In fact the Merkato literally covers several suburbs. One could spend a whole day here exploring the different sections. If I ever return here it would to the recycling section that I would head to see what is created from the waste material that is recycled eg sandals out of tyres and coffee pots out of olive tins.
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