Cafeterias are among special places for whiling time and for meeting individuals from different walks of life. Like me, for individuals who do not frequent bars, some cafeterias are best places to acquaint oneself with people. Till the coming of WIFI or internet, Cafes were also places where individuals freely read their newspapers, magazines or novels. Well, this culture is still there in some places like Arat Killo or Piassa, where several, newspaper and magazine worms, politicians and political analysts converge.
If there is any place in Ethiopia where thousands of coffee houses are found, it could be no other than Addis Ababa. Whoever has a chance to visit Addis, s/he will be impressed by the cluster of cafes found all over the city. Depending on the places they are situated or the type of customers they have, most coffee houses in Addis have different standards. This standard is evident from the type of product they serve to the kind of interior designs they adopt and chairs they use.
Most coffee houses in Addis are well decorated and the service providers are well prepared in handling their customers. The beauty of the waitresses, coupled with their plastic smiles, has a come-back again impact on customers. With the exception of the exorbitant prices most cafes in Adids are right places to chat with friends but not to read books. Lately, I had a chance to visit such a coffee house in Addis. This coffee house is located around Gerji. Unlike most coffee houses I surveyed, this one stands peculiar in several ways. It is not only a coffee house. It is also a gallery where books are shelved in a corner for customers to read. When I first entered into the house I was confused whether I was in a cafe or in an art gallery. The beautiful paintings on the walls of the cafe-gallery had a power to uplift mood.
Great Ethiopia, smiling baby boy, beautiful lady sitting on the armchair, galloping horses, calcification are some of the pictures that catch the attention of cafe users. The paintings inspire those who have interest to draw. Beside these breathtaking paintings, the books shelved in the cafe serve reminders for people to find solace in books. This cafe did not only serve its customers with coffee or tea. It has something different. Whoever has an interest to paint it allows a free access to “A4” white paper and pencil. If there is a need for help, there are also young painting teachers who will help the beginner. What a wonderful experience. Alem Getachew is the owner of the café. She is a wheel-chaired woman with passion and vision. Her being a person with disability could not prevent her from showing her talents.
The paintings she draw sitting on a wheel chair are breathtaking. She is also a good art teacher in her living house and she has created job opportunities for several youths. I had a chance to informally talk to Alem and I was able to see how passionate she is for art. According to her, nothing hinders people from their vision if they truly give themselves for things they love. Her father was a source of inspiration to her current achievement. His positive words, which cut to the heart and encouragements, were reasons attributable to the achievement. He never saw a daughter living with disability. He was not generous in flattery. This made her to be serious to be a professional painter and art teacher. According to Alem, besides purifying her soul, her paintings are also her means of sustenance. Using her talent she is able to support herself and her family. Beside serving customers, Alem also used her gallery as a center where visionary youths (Disabled and non-disabled) are gathered to discuss ideas and read books.
The Ethiopian Herald February 17/2019
BY LEULSEGED WORKU