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Thursday, 11 September 2008

Fast food therapy in urban Ethiopia

Tedla Asfaw

A friend shared with me on this fist day of the Ethiopian new year of 2001 an event which is common in urban Ethiopia. It is eating time, and customers are going to the "back "of the restaurant and pay an Ethiopian one Birr or less for "food". Payment is done through a small opening and after the payment a small window is opened for service. No one is allowed in.

Do not expect any package if you are new you might lose your service. The food service in this business is all from leftover from the restaurants that used to be given in the past for the poor freely now is a life line for many residents who can not afford to buy simple "Injera and wote", Ethiopian flat bread with hot sauce.

Do not expect to fill your belly either. Here is the step you should follow. After you deposit your money through the hole move one step on side for the next door. Do not expect McDonald kind of package, what you have to do is open your mouth. The small door is open and you will be given one bowl of food on your mouth that we call it "Gursha".

There is no question to ask and even you do not know what is put in your mouth for that matter. This is our people "creativity" for survival. Of course someone is profiting from it and the health of thousands is compromised by unsanitary "Gursha" from person to person on what I called "food therapy" .

For people who are hungry those sanitary questions are a luxury questions and business is booming. These customers are  in fact the lucky ones and we should not forget about the thousands who can not afford to pay because they have nothing to pay for Gursha which is one Birr or less.

I have no doubt one or few Gurshas is not to satisfy you or give you calorie to be active in your daily life but might buy you few  weeks, months or years to live until your unhealthy body is defeated by disease.

Those who can afford this food therapy however are not sure if hey will afford it tomorrow but  business is booming because there are thousands on waiting line to join this food therapy. This is what we call TPLF's Ethiopia  "high tech" food service in opposite to its low tech war in Somalia.