Observations from ‘the Motherland’: of a lively nightlife in Addis

Written by Mohammed A

Hello blog-goers

First I want to apologize for not replying to any of the comments on the blog.  It seems I cannot readily access the site from here but I appreciate all of the encouragement and ideas being shared.

In my last blog, I shared with you all the sad story of a victim of abuse; the young girl from Gelemso.  I also wrote that my next entry would look at the healthcare system of Ethiopia.  I decided, for my own sake and perhaps yours, to write about a lighter account and show the tantalizing and exciting treats this city has to offer….the nightlife!

For some unfortunate reason, when I was here in 2004 I didn’t explore the culture of Addis Ababa.  Maybe because I assumed every venue featured the same offering of a good meal, coffee ceremony and cultural show.  This time around however, I am seeing just how vibrant and global this city is!

I had the opportunity to go out on the town a few times since I’ve been here and let me tell you, the social scene in this city is alive and kicking.  In the day time, the city is just as I described in my first blog (chaotic, smoggy, animals and people everywhere) but when the sun sets a whole new town unfolds before your eyes and you will wonder if you are really still in Addis or perhaps teleported to Paris or NYC.

It’s about 6pm and the merriment starts, as it does in most places around the world, when the work day ends.   On any given weekday, in any American city, from the hours of 5 to 7 p.m. you’re lucky to find a free barstool at your local watering hole.  Funny comparison, the happy hour in Ethiopia happens not in bars but in the hundreds and hundreds of cafés around town….and it’s just as loud and hopping.  If you ever find yourself here I recommend Kiyab café in Piazza, Bolis café in Bole and VeniVet near Flamingo.  Complete with marble tile floors, ambient lighting and the latest dance beats, these and many other cafes offer an awesome place to unwind from the workday and caffeinate yourself to explore the awesome nightlife.  

Interestingly, I found a comfort from home within the first few days that I was here.  Out of my peripheral vision I saw the green circle logo with white writing and immediately recognized it.   Starbucks?!?!?  No, but pretty close.  It’s Kaldi’s; a 25-store chain café that offers caramel macchiatos and double mocha lattes that, dare I say, are actually better than the original.

Okay, let’s eat! The restaurants in Addis offer some of the most amazing dishes and unique experiences that rival any city in the world.  Two of my favorites are Yod Abyssinia in Bole and Romina in Kazanches. When I first walked in to Romina, it was full of foreigners and there was country music playing.  Ummm…what? I somehow walked off the streets of an African city into the heart of the American Midwest.   Well, little did I know then that I was in for quite a treat.  Romina features a Benihana style set up where they cook the most delicious tibs on a grill right in front of you.  As the night progresses, they slowly change the music from country, to Ethiopian hits, and then pop music.  It’s the food that draws you in but before you know it you’re in the middle of a hip social hotspot.

If you get the chance to explore the nightlife in Bole, I have only one piece of advice….dress to impress.  It’s funny, there must be a universal law for all clubs around the world to keep people waiting in lines outside, complain about the way club-goers dress and overcharge for drinks.  It’s quite a contrast from the daytime scenery.  

I remembered how earlier while walking up Churchill St, I was nudged in the thigh by a renegade goat on the street and six hours later I’m inside one of the hottest clubs in Addis.  In my opinion, a must-see is the fairly new nightclub called Suba on Ethio-China road in Bole.  With a red carpet entrance, bouncers dressed like secret servicemen, the best selection of hip hop, reggae, pop and world hits, this spot is sure to deliver a good time.

Well I hope you enjoyed reading about what Addis has to offer from a social perspective.  I’ll be sure to write about more interesting experiences like this in the future.

As I mentioned earlier, next time, I will merge back to a more serious topic, the healthcare system in Ethiopia.  There is quite a bit to cover but I’ll do my best to pick out few topics that stood out to me and stick to those.  As always, please let me know if you’d like to know about something in particular.

Till next time….Ciao!



About the author

Mohammed A

Mohammed Ademo is a freelance journalist based in Washington, DC. He's the founder and editor of, an independent news website about Ethiopia.

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