Saturday, September 26, 2009

Beggars of Addis Ababa

I just watched a 45 minute gut-wrenching documentary titled "The Beggars in Addis Ababa" courtesy of Ethiomedia. The documentary was made in 2008 by a Danish film-maker Jakob Gottschau who followed two women beggars from a village called Kajima in north Wollo region. Begging is nothing new in Addis Ababa or Ethiopia, but there is no mistaking that the beggar population of Addis Ababa has skyrocketed in the last two decades. Next to the astounding population explosion of the country, I would have to say that this beggar phenomenon is one thing that struck me the most on my trip to Ethiopia in 2003. I just do not remember seeing able-bodied people, like these two women in this documentary, begging in the streets of Addis Ababa back in the 80's. Back then, the beggars were folks who had some kind of physical ailment that made them "untouchable" or an outcast in their own villages such as lepers, blind people, etc. Would it be fair to blame this sad reality on the incumbent regime of Ethiopia that has ruled the country for more than 18 years? Sure, it is.

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