Ethiopia is one of the fastest-growing societies worldwide. At the same time, 80% of the population still work in the agricultural sector. The Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, has undergone massive changes in the last decade in the context of industrialization, urbanization and infrastructure projects. A controversial master plan, lack of housing and massive urban renewal projects were challenges that have shaped the urban landscape of Addis Ababa. This has involved the expropriation of land, house demolition, relocation and compensation of displaced residents.
The increasing demand for urban land and outward expansion of the city was formalized in the master plan for Addis Ababa and the surrounding Oromia Zone. According to this master plan, published in 2014, the city would expand towards the Oromia region by developing Oromia’s farmlands. It raised concerns among many Oromos about adequate compensation and danger of displacement. This finally escalated into violent anti-government protests that led to the declaration of a nine-month state of emergency in 2016. Although the master plan was abandoned, Addis Ababa’s expansion has already displaced millions of Oromo farmers by transforming a great amount of Oromia’s farmlands in the eastern outskirts of Addis Ababa into the new housing settlements.
Momentography of a failure [ADDIS ABABA] observes the transformative space of the city with a particular focus on the question of urbanization, inner-city migration, emerging and disappearing spaces and commoning in public space in the Eastern periphery of Addis Ababa. The research was conducted around the Akaki Gorge, which is not only geographically the eastern end of the city but also describes administratively and ethnically the border between the Amharic-dominated capital and the rural area of the Oromo population.
The project explores different stages of urbanization, the gradual abandonment of traditional rural use of space, how forms of spatial, and therefore social, demarcation develop, and how far the process of urbanization – beyond clichéd misery narratives – creates spaces of opportunity that have not previously existed in Sub-Saharan Africa.
What are the different spatial forms that face each other in the east of Addis Ababa on a few square kilometers? How are public and private space practices distributed inside and outside? How does rural space change when it becomes a city?
MOMENTOGRAPHY OF A FAILURE [ADDIS ABABA] book is the outcome of Momentography of a Failure workshop that was a collaboration with Ethiopian urbanists, professional and non-professional photographers and dwellers of the different areas.
The workshop was based on artistic research related to the documentary film project RIFT Finfinnee by Daniel Kötter and lead by Nafiseh Fathollahzadeh, photographer, Daniel Kötter, filmmaker and Bisrat Kifle, urbanist, coordinated by Maheder Haileselassie, founder of CPE.
Photo-essays: Yero Adugna Eticha/ Naomi Amenu-Fesseha / Nafiseh Fathollahzadeh / Brook Getachew / Tsion Haileselassie / Samson Sileshi / Henok Ashagre / Fikreselassie Kassahun Abebe / Bemnet Teklemariam