There was a shadow hovering for three days over Addis Abeba last week. It was marked with sticks and stones, burned vehicles and broken windows, confrontations and the unfortunate loss of lives. When the violence finally subsides at the end of each day between Tuesday and Thursday, all that was left were quiet streets and empty offices. The capital Addis Abeba and several towns in the Oromia Regional State were under siege.
Sparked by the death of the popular musician Hachalu Hundessa, who is also known for his political activism, the week was a watershed moment in Ethiopia's political history. It created further frictions in the political scene and inspired Addis Abebans to take matters into their own hands as youth of the city organised and demonstrated.
During these distressing number of days, businesses took the brunt of the violence that occurred. Aside from the property damage and the lack of business activity as protests and counter-demonstrations occurred, lootings were carried out en masse. With little chance of redeeming such property loss through insurance schemes, businesses have been left to recover from the impact on their own.
"We're deeply sad, and we want the government to take action against the perpetrators," said a manager of one of the eateries down Sierra Leone Street, aka Debre Zeit Road, which after being stoned and looted may require up to 150,000 Br to renovate.
A committee made up of city, regional and federal agencies has been formed to investigate reports of the crimes committed. But this has been of little consolation to many considering that, even though the lost property may be recovered, the psychological and social repercussions will be laborious to address.
"I built my business from zero, working since I was 13, and now you see that anyone can come and destroy what you've built," said one car dealer who was hit by a rock as he tried to fend off protesters from damaging his property, which in the end was only half successful.
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