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Jolly Arada

Part II
Jolly Arada
In the 1930’s, the world was in chaos and in the midst of World War II, the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini had occupied much of Ethiopia.  During his occupation, a legend was born on the streets of Addis that turned into a cultural phenomenon like no other.  This is the birth of “Jolly Arada” or “Jolly Slick”.

The word Jolly comes from the old Middle English or Old French word Joli or Jolie; which means beautiful.  Among many definitions, the dictionary also defines Jolly [jol-ee] as cunning, one who can amuse and then divert.

And so it was, during this time in Ethiopia, Mussolini had set up the city of Addis Ababa with strict segregation laws between Italians and Ethiopians.  Many Italians themselves did not agree with Mussolini and hence discreetly lived within the community and the people of Ethiopia, the law, however, remained unchanged.

One of the many places that remained segregated was the Piassa Strip, just outside Arat Kilo.  Today it is one of the most popular shopping destinations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Here in the Piassa, only the Italians were allowed to enjoy the shops, the movie cinemas and the fine dining restaurants located throughout the strip.  Of course, this was back in the 1930s.

When local Ethiopians would enter the piassa for pleasure or business, they were dismissed rather rudely and told to go to the “Merkato” or the market place (in Italian).  Ethiopians of course, inherently possessed with pride and dignity (both a curse and a gift), many Ethiopians turned their backs on the Piassa and disappeared into the Merkato never to be seen or heard off again.  Until it was time…until things changed…until the market was on their side!

According to legend, these Ethiopians were so determined to succeed that while doing business in the merkato, they had unknowingly turned this area into the largest open market in Africa.  Everyday thousands of goods, valuable merchandise was being passed to and from this area, money was being exchanged in bags and many Ethiopians were suddenly becoming rich.

They began to hustle to defeat the Italian economy, the very infrastructure they were once banned from -- the piassa area.  It soon came to be that only merkato had the items one was looking for -- and hence; as a natural consequence, many Italians were forced to purchase items from the merkato area.  But the market was now under the control of the oppressed.  And so prices fluctuated like a corrupt stock market, and for the wrong people asking the right questions with the tone of vulnerability, doom was at hand. 

When the Italians would arrive to the merkato …they would be for warned by their subservient guides.  “Be careful,” they would whisper as they entered this dark African market, “the merkato and the people here…they are all very arada (clever) business people.” 
And so the second legend was born, “Jolly Arada” or “Jolly City Slicker.”  Today the area from the Arat Kilo all the way to the Piazza and leading into the merkato is known as “Arada Kefle-Ketema” or “Arada (clever) Sub-City.”



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The Jolly Legend

The Jolly Legend
Part I
Jolly Zenachew
In the 1930’s, the world was in chaos and in the midst of World War II, the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini had occupied much of Ethiopia.  During his occupation, a legend wa  .... Read More

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Jolly Berd Aiyferam

Part III
Jolly Berd Aiyferam
In the 1930’s, the world was in chaos and in the midst of World War II, the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini had occupied much of Ethiopia.  During his occupation, a legend was born on the streets of Addis   .... Read More


 
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