After the reputable call by PM Abiy to receive 1 million Ethiopian diasporas for homecoming, a significant number of people are in rushing from all parts of the world.
Following this initiation, many business and service givers are eager to redeem their business from various setbacks in the market due to the current crises in Ethiopia. The sudden gesture of diaspora’s coming home created a wretched working condition for small-time shoe shinners in the capital.
Mikias Mengesha is working poor, shinning for living at Bole, close to the airport. After moving from Gurage, southern part of Ethiopia, he settled in different parts of the city, struggling to find a stable location and finally residing at Bole for almost six years now.
But recently, a new barrier came to tackle the small business. Since the diasporas started to arrive, law enforcement officers rigorously looted shoe shinner’s equipment and coerced them to move away from their regular working side of the street.
“All we know is when we asked why? All they told us was, we look bad for the image, making the streets hideous,” mentioned Samuel, another shoe shiners who settle in the main streets of Bole.
“We have friends who are told to move away from all around the city,” Mikias added.
The prohibition dominantly focuses on the city’s central areas, including the main streets of bole፣ stadium, megenagna, etc. According to law enforcement officers, the ban will only last until January 8, 2022, but this promise does not convince shoe shinners like Samuel.
Solely just the past week, more than 20 shoe shinners were forced to move from the main streets of Bole, and fewer than half so far returned working while others were forced to go back to their town. Leaving them in the most uncertain conditions to make s living.
The setting of the shoe shining takes a form in the sidewalks of roads, people sitting, gazing at the street’s chaos while engaging in a cleaning transaction.
Depending on the time and location, Michael mentioned he could earn up to 200 to 300 birr per day, having regular customers. Still, as the excitement for diasporas’ homecoming raises, the pressure of the hype brings unpromising fate to small-time shoe shiners like Mikias. But trying to survive on a low-earning job is insufficient to get by.
As the city welcomes and glorifies the diaspora community, in hindsight, the counteract is affecting these small-time workers most brutally, leaving them vulnerable, and being ostracized by law enforcement officers seems a hard pill to swallow. The shoe shiners from all over the city showed ineffable anger and hopelessness towards the responsible people.