The cigarette seller of Addis Ababa

Featured in

  • Published 20120725
  • ISBN: 9781921922596
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

THE CIGARETTE SELLER of Addis Ababa works her corner, near the entrance to the compound. She buys her cigarettes by the packet at the wholesale shop a twenty-minute walk away, and sells them one by one to the men who pass by on the street. Some days a man will buy a whole packet at once and she has made an afternoon’s fortune in a minute.

At the beginning, the cigarette seller of Addis Ababa needs only enough capital to buy her first packet. She works her corner in the afternoons after school. The cigarette seller lives with her family in the compound of the St George beer factory, because her father has an important job there. He is responsible for the smooth running of all of the machinery. If anything goes wrong, day or night, the cigarette seller’s father has to fix it. Her father’s job is so important that, if he goes to the stadium to watch the St George soccer team on a Saturday afternoon, which he loves to do, he has to tell his men in which section and row of the stadium he will be sitting, so that if there is a problem with the machinery, one of them can run into the stadium during the soccer match and fetch him from his seat. They don’t have mobile phones at this time, in Addis Ababa or anywhere.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

More from author

More from this edition

A troubled world

Essay‘AT LAST,' I think, as a boulder hurtles towards me.Go to Sicily and you expect to have a bag snatched by a passing scooter...

Travelling as a journalist

EssayIN 2005, I LOST the ability to travel for pleasure. Until then, I would work until I'd banked about $30,000, then quit, leave the...


MemoirI SUPPOSE HE was from the provinces, the heavily shelled country in the central highlands or further north, where Agent Orange left behind by...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.