Addis Streets

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They stood in the middle of the street nonchalant/ unbothered that a car was coming their way at high speed. Perhaps it was defiance. Or indifference. Or masochism. I wasn’t quite sure which. My grandma’s words rang true: ‘back in the day, pedestrians used to be fearful of cars. Today, it’s the cars that fear pedestrians’. I swerved to the right of them. They stood still, unfazed, not even bothering to look my way.

It’s funny how the people on the streets stand timidly in disbelief at a zebra crossing when a car stops for them. Perhaps they’re not used to cars making way. And yet in the same breath cross streets and jump over barriers on highways where cars are coming and going at high speeds. The first I would’ve imagined is because they fear for their lives and are too used to cars having no mercy for pedestrians and oblivious or disregarding the fact that a zebra crossing is meant to give pedestrians the right of way. The second however makes me think the exact opposite. That people are reckless and don’t value their lives much. Is this a reflection of how bad things are in this city? That people are willing to lose it all on the streets? That perhaps the streets are where they assert control, making up for the other aspects of their lives where they feel powerless? Is it a defiance of all those wealthy enough to own a car in a country where cars have been inflated 2-300%?

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