Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ethiopian Live Music in Addis Ababa

Ethiopia gave the birth to Ethio-jazz (Ethiopian Jazz or African Jazz) popularized by Mulatu Astatke and his band.

You  will possibly have difficult time looking for one of the true Ethio-jazz live performances (as the authors of this blog post evidenced) as the most live performances are a mix of contemporary Amharic music, smooth jazz, pop or even reggae with little of Ethio-jazz to be heard.

We recommend Ghion Hotel night club (near Meskel square), where live performances are part of African Jazz Night every day except for Monday (free entry).

You can also try Jazzamba lounge in the Addis-oldest Taitu hotel, but you will likely be dissapointed by the music as well food and cover (80 Birr).

Live bands playing contemporary Amharic music (pop etc.) can be found almost anywhere, just ask the locals. Expect the synth keyboards as a background for mostly average singers.

What to see in Addis Ababa


Possibly a place that would be called center in Europe - a large intersection with communist built shopping centre in the middle offering shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants. It is also a place of governmental institutions and a hub, where you can get on your minibus connection.

Ethiopian-Cuban Friendship Monument

Derg regime monument built in pompous style that reminds of the Ethiopian-Somali war in 1977 and serves as memorial to the soldiers killed in the war. Cuba supported Ethiopia in the war and provided army, so many of the soldiers are of Cuban origin. The whole place had had its better times and is now abandoned, but you can see some kids playing football in front of it. Free entry.

Meskel square

A square of pompous demonstrations of unity of Ethiopian people, celebrating their late prime minister. Nowadays cut with train lines construction into few parts with the largest one serving as a hub for minibuses passing through or going out of Addis Ababa to Debre Zeyt and others. Selam Bus and Sky Bus lines also go from here to the other cities of Ethiopia in any direction such as Harar or Hawassa. You can find the tourist information office and Selam Bus and SKy Bus ticket offices on the side where the high buildings line the square.


A market district always full of activity, people shuffling goods around, sellers of anything and everything you might look for including legal stimulant drug Chat (Khat or Quat). Watch out for the pickpockets as you would do anyway in the crowded area such as this.

Mount Entoto

Mount Entoto towers over Addis Ababa and encloses it from the north. It offers nice views, but you will likely need to take a taxi up there (a minibus connection exists, though). There are also many locals living in the forests and the oldest churches could be find here.

Shiromeda - Sidist Kilo - Amist Kilo - Arat Kilo

A whole boulevard from Shiromeda (north) down to Arat Kilo (south) is lined by universities, schools, churches, the National Museum (where you can see the Lucy), governmental institutions, the original Haile Selassie Palace, and busy streets. You can take a minibus from either direction or have a long walk. Sidis Kilo (Six Kilo), Amist Kilo (Five Kilo) and Arat Kilo (Four Kilo) denote an approximate distance to the centre and are all large intersections, where minibuses can be caught.