Ethiopians Mourn The Destruction Of Historic Piassa District


Ethiopians mourn the destruction of historic Piassa district

Addis Ababa, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 17th Apr, 2024) "Our history and our identity have been erased," laments Samira after the destruction of her birthplace in the historic Piassa district in the heart of Ethiopia's capital.

In recent weeks, bulldozers have torn down countless buildings in Piassa -- some dating back a century -- as part of a modernisation drive by the authorities.

Many parts of the vibrant, if somewhat tumbledown, neighbourhood have been turned into dusty piles of rubble, with locals often given little notice to leave their homes or businesses.

A number of historical and well-loved sites in the area, from Ethiopia's first baklava bakery to jewellery and gold shops and bustling cafes, have disappeared.

Critics say the urban renewal scheme known as the Addis Ababa Corridor Development Project has not only wrecked buildings, but also the fabric of society in Piassa, where people from all walks of life rubbed shoulders in its cobbled streets.

"A lot of cherished history has been destroyed," says Samira, a 30-year-old government employee who like other residents interviewed by AFP did not want to give her name for fear of reprisals.

The local authorities had informed the family that the home where Samira was born and raised would be razed "without telling us the exact date".

"They cut our water and electricity the following weekend, then we were given a day and a half notice to leave," says the mother of a baby daughter, mourning the family memories lost or damaged in the hasty move.

Fellow Piassa resident Sami tells a similar story.

"Everything went at the speed of light," he says, recounting how the building owned by his father that housed Sami's printing shop business and other stores was torn down.

"I used to have a shop, but now I don't," the 40-year-old says grimly.

"Yes, it's old, but that doesn't mean it's trash... It's our heritage."