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Addis Abeba – Check The Museums!

Reconstitution of Lucy, National Museum, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia

Reconstitution of Lucy, National Museum, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia

As many large African cities, Addis Abeba is very difficult to apprehend for newcomers: a widespread, nondescript grid of busy streets lined with low concrete blocks and congested with traffic, with no clearly identifiable center. To make matters worse, you need a car to move around, as distances are huge, far too big for pedestrians…

At first sight, there is nothing special or attractive to be discovered or enjoyed here. I am no night owl at that, so exploring the quickly developing and vibrant night life was no priority whatsoever, especially since Addis Abeba is said to be light years behind Nairobi or Kinshasa in this regard.

Nevertheless, being the necessary point of entry for almost all foreigners, you will most probably have to stay in there at least one day (most probably after a night flight). And you should definitely take the time to see at least a few museums there…

  1. “Red Terror” Martyrs Museum

You simply shouldn’t visit Ethiopia without discovering this small, private museum! The entire visit is tough to stomach, and the room with portraits of victims is a daunting experience. But this is one of these dark moments of History everyone should face…

It is unknown how many people were victims of the Red Terror of the DERG, but unconceivable figures like 1 million deaths are considered highly plausible. After overthrowing the Emperor Haile Selassie, the “communists” under Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam launched the Red Terror Campaign with an infamous speech in Addis Abeba: “Death to the counter Revolutionaries”. What followed were large scale massacres of anyone who might appear against the Regime. Children were no ecceptions.

The small museum was designed and opened in 2010 by a mother, whose 4 teenage children were killed the same day by the DERG. “As if I bore them all in one night, they slew them in a single night”, did she say upon opening this museum.

  1. National Museum

Naturally, Lucy at the National Museum is a must – visit, but sadly she is in the USA! Only a copy of the bones is on display.

Especially the Paleontology Exhibit ranks amongst the most comprehensive and most beautiful in Sub-Saharan Africa, and displays a wealth of fossilized evidence of life in Prehistoric Africa. You should take one of the excellent guides of the museum, as explanations are scarce…


At the National Museum, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia

  1. Ethnological Museum

Another treasures of Addis Abeba is the Ethnological Museum. There, the many traditions and customs of the various ethnic groups in the country are brought to life and lively displayed in this large and well-organized museum. On each visit (April 2011 & November 2015), the guide was excellent and extremely knowledgeable.



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