Ethiopian traders have displaced Nigerians who used to dominate trading activities in many parts of Central Johannesburg.
From “Little Lagos”, some parts of Johannesburg have become “Little Addis” or “Little Ethiopia.”
The booming Johannesburg’s ‘Ethiopian district’ now stretches across some buildings along Rahima Moosa Street near the old Joburg Sun Hotel on the corner of Troye Street in Johannesburg Central Business District (CBD).
Hitherto, Hillbrow in Central Johannesburg was referred to as “Little Lagos” or “Little Abuja” but now the Nigerian business glory in Central Joburg has faded away.
It is now a fallacy of biased and unfounded conclusion to assume Nigerians dominate businesses in Central Johannesburg.
What you see now is a shiny array of Ethiopian stores, restaurants, coffee houses, hair salons, clothing retailers and kiosks selling Ethiopian newspapers, religious artefacts and souvenirs.
The Ethiopian culture has swam and stayed the course of the business waves in Central Johannesburg and it is also growing in Randburg Central Business District (CBD).
Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia is now popular, with many shop owners and traders also speaking Tigrinya, one of the main languages of Ethiopia. Nollywood movies and the Nigeria’s recent glow in Afro-music are part of what keep Nigerian culture alive in Johannesburg.
When asked how Ethipians ‘topple’ Nigerians in street trading in South Africa, a Nigerian trader with twenty years experience said: “Our people got carried away. Some people turned to fast money of drugs and fraud. Even those who made money from drugs didn’t plough profit back into business.”
Emma Chukwuemeka said the Ethiopians are more organised and united than Nigerians. “They put money together to buy in bulk and redistribute. Unity is not strong among Nigerians in South Africa. Also, authorities in South Africa are anti-Nigeria. They frustrated some of our traders out of business because they are jealous.They prefer white people to dominate than fellow black people. That’s why the police boss was complaining that there are too much foreigners in Johannesburg”.
An Ethiopian business owner in Randburg disagreed they displaced Nigerians but said Nigerians outgrew the businesses and were looking for larger sources of income.
There are still pockets of Nigerian trading businesses – salon, mini-markets, Internet shops, clothing boutique, restaurant, among others but the Ethiopians are now the Kings. Also, ‘Lagos’ and ‘Abuja’ are still well represented and articulated in Johannesburg and many parts of South Africa, especially Pretoria, even as some Nigerians still believe they dominate street trade in a larger context in South Africa.