The night life of the capital is almost always busy, crowded and at almost full capacity. With uniform like clubs, restaurant and pubs scattered all around and millions of residents coupled with tourist and the Diasporas visiting the nation on a regular basis, it seems the night life of Addis Ababa is attempting to match the busy construction boom that has changed its recent narratives.
In all that has become of the old Addis, what are becoming hard to differentiate are these venues from each other.
The old venues that used to cater to live music have dwindled and then disappeared in recent years. The azmari houses, the jazz clubs that came about near Bole International Airport two decades ago have now been replaced by skyscraper buildings and shining hotels, mimicking those found in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and other gulf cities.
The old era of Emperor Haile Selassie I that gave away to the superstars, such as Mahmoud Ahmed and Tilahun Gessesse, to the Derg era and re-introduced almost three decades age are almost now history.
Enter Mama’s Kitchen Club, Restaurant and lounge!
An immaculate specious club, restaurant and lounge located not far from the main Bole Road, near Wolo Sefer off Ethio-China Street within a neighborhood that is in transition, from a once sleepy area to that is with all buildings and less green space, the club trying to change the night life of the capital, complimenting what is out here.
Just a year after it opened, the club is unique inside interior coupled with noted hospitality; the club is bringing some of the grooves of the capital come to life.
Mama’s Kitchen has been one of the top rated places to dine in the capital. Mamas Kitchen, according to their patrons, is one of the best hangout places in Addis. Also known for its five course meals, the Mama’s Kitchen Royal Lounge at Wollo Sefer is where people can also enjoy live music section every night with local and international artists backed with some of the best bands in town.
A fusion of the eerie rhythms of ancient Ethiopian tribal music with the soulful undertones of jazz and the funky bounce of Afrobeat, Ethio-jazz had its heyday in the 1950s and 60s but in recent years has been making a slow but unmistakable comeback in the country’s capital.
Ethio-jazz is now played on the radio and taught at all the capital’s music colleges, and a new crop of musicians is beginning to flower as a result. And it is these musicians that are finally performing at the city’s premier jazz club, Mama’s Kitchen
“I am the product of the Derg era, where I spent my youth fast removed from clubs with live music like that of my parents’ generation,” explained Yohannes Tessema, as the imitation sounds of Muluken Melesse played from stage. “I am glad I found such a place inside Mama’s Kitchen club, instead of being at grocery store or shinny clubs, listening to loud music, to enjoy and unwind.”
With its unique extravaganza night life, artifacts and an array of live music of the famous and aspiring Jano Band and the legendary Alemayehu Eshete with Abegaz Shiota’s crew and many others, Mama’s Kitchen club has become a destination for the young and old, the affluent and the visiting diasporas, tired of pre-recorded music elsewhere, but preferring the live music of the old, the way Addis Ababa used to be-with its lively music, unique hospitality, preserved in the memories of the older generation.
“When I moved to Washington DC, I was young and spent much times in clubs listening to the likes of Ephrem Tamru and Tewodros Tadesse. I lived the experience and when I returned to Ethiopia, I expected to experience that and more, but I was sad when that did not happen. But this club has given me hope that we can experience some of that,” said Kirubel Girma, a returnee from the United States.
The club, an off spring of the famous restaurant, opened a year ago after being in hiatus at its old location on top of the DHG building on Bole road. Like its current location, Mama’s Kitchen on DH Geda had a wood-and-glass bar on the fourth floor of the innocuous shopping mall near Bole International Airport. It hosted an array of artist like the queen of Tizta Bezawerk Assfaw, but its abrupt closing disappointed many. It was a surprise when it was introduced back.
“I am excited, this unique place has been built in Addis as a place where I can take my own parents and visiting friends and make the memories of live music last,” said Kidist Lemma as her words are swallowed inside the sound of Jano Band. “Listen. I was getting tired of the club scene, not much of a drinker at the many lounges and now, I can come, unwind and meet interesting people.”
Following the success of its offering in Addis Ababa, with a busy and crowded restaurant in bole near Edna Mall, there is a plan to open such an established club and other restaurants in the other areas, with the future plan of expanding in other parts of the continent.