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Awasa’s Fish Market

If I shut my eyes and think of Awasa, I smell fish. I’ve seen and eaten plenty during my four days stay there last week.

It was on Thursday that my colleagues and I headed to this pretty town in an office-organized picnic. We have stayed for three days in the town and another day in Yirgalem’s Aregash Lodge, a spot I remember fondly. (I hope I will come up with another post in week’s time.)

For those of you who don’t know, Awasa lies in the basin of a lake; its brown-colored lake draws residents, vacationers and visitors alike. The area’s rift valley terrain supports many kinds of plants like parse shrubs, hardy grasses,acacia, palms and tamarisks and make it ideal for various types of birds to thrive in, building their elaborate nests in trees and on telephone poles. a

We stayed in Shebele1, formerly known as Oasis, a compound that lies by the lakeside, that gave us a chance to look around the birds and the colobus monkeys that are regularly seen hanging around the big trees.

But what I remember most is the scene at the small fish market around the lake. The place is called Amora Gedel, literally meaning a cliff for bird of prey, though there wasn’t any cliff.

The air is full of the sound of chattering monkeys and colorful, screaming birds.Each morning, fishing fleets deliver catches of tilapia, catfish and large barbus to the local market. Fish is caught mainly for local consumption and provides the residents with source of protein. It was a colorful scene as hundreds of fishermen, shrimpers, and other traders swarm the area. The fishermen who slice off their fins for the soup market use small boats, wooden canoes, simple nets and lures to catch their prey. a

There are some motorized canoes but mostly are used to show tourists around. The market is open every day, but it is busiest during the fasting days, Wednesdays and Fridays. The most interesting time to come is at between 7 Am and 10 Am.

Here a young fisherman displays his catch.a

A handful of people sat on the stone and ate raw fillet or ‘fillito’ as it called with maize-prepared circular bread; they call CD, a name given for its circular shape. Vendors who most of them are women offer vegetables, spices, and other goods.a

The girl above was offering me a CD to buy.

Along the lake large wading birds including herons preen their feathers, while storks, pelicans, cormorants patrol overhead on the look out for something to eat in the water down below. Seeing birds watchfully in the shallow on their long thin angular legs is wonderful. a

For the town residents getting to the lakeside is as easy as a slow cruise via bikes. Awasa bustles with people on bicycles and motorbikes.

One place that specialized on fish in the center of the town is Dahlac hotel.a

Fish is served in many ways-plain, raw, with a sauce, fried with vegetables, and asa timiz.The fishing business however suffers from lack of support from a local government, shortage of spare parts for the fishing fleet, and absence of regulation. Seeing the fish lay in a stone where there could potentially be bacteria and washed in the not- clean- lake- water isn’t a pleasant thing, if not hazardous to the health. This aside,the rest was a delight.

I will leave you with one of my favorite shots.


(All pictures can be enlarged by cliking on them.)

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Alethia
    December 25, 2007 at 5:56 pm

    Thanks Arefe for this piece that brought back many memories about Awassa from years back. Right now, I’m feeling nostalgic about the good old days.

    It’s good to have some such articles supported by pics as you’re doing these days. Good job.



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