Food for Thought

As a group of students gather for their weekly English lessons at ‘Practical International,’ someone has a bright idea. With a thirst for knowledge amongst the younger generation, people need an outlet whereby they can discuss and read in a comfortable and cozy environment within the busy city center.

How about a cafeacute? But not just any old cafeacute, as Sean Clothier writes, these students are looking to inspire people through the acquisition of knowledge and are hoping that their idea will catch on and spread to other parts of the country.

The color of the walls may not seem important to the vast majority of people. But the next time you walk into a cafeacute for your daily cup of coffee or tea, just think about the way you feel when you see the interior design. According to these students, who are later to become presidents of their own projects, believe that color says everything, regarding the philosophy of their place and following a healthy discussion it is a tossup between yellow and orange. For Kidus Dagnachew, an Ethiopian architect given the laudable task of designing the interior, ‘orange is the color of knowledge,’ and it is this that they are seeking to underline. As a mixture of the two warm colors [red and yellow,] orange is said to stimulate appetite and be associated with healthy eating. In a cafeacute whereby the contents of the foods are to be displayed, people will be hopefully inspired to eat and this may in turn provoke thought.

Their project comes at a time when the nation is said to be in the midst of a period of economic growth as an emerging market economy. Yet one cannot help but notice the lack of literature and educational texts found on the shelves in most bookshops. As the prices of such products continue to increase and people turn increasingly individually towards the Internet as a source of information, it is this trend that the students are seeking to buck. The name of the cafeacute, ‘Litha,’ means literally ‘star’ in Zulu, which in the majority of African languages is taken to mean ‘bringer of knowledge or enlightenment.’ It is indeed such enlightenment that the group is hoping to bring, explains Marcos [one of the group’s presidents] ‘as our ideas link with the school which teaches different subjects.’ ‘The idea is brilliant,’ he adds, assuring us that ‘Litha’ will not just be seen as another food and drink outlet.

The students are incredibly keen that their venture will not just become another cafeacute amongst thousands of others. Its location will be key to its survival, in the heart of Piazza, where thousands of commuters and shoppers will hopefully stop by for a cup of coffee, desperately hoping to gain some respite for the hustle and bustle of the chaotic area. The cafeacute will focus on 5 star customer service and a heavy emphasis will be placed on training as according to Yoseph Bekele, business consultant for the project, ‘service is the best way to express our heart.’ ‘Honesty and diligence are core values’ he adds, and if these are to be correctly applied there is no reason whatsoever why the company cannot franchise or expand to other areas of the capital and beyond. Yoseph has eloquently articulated a link between a country that may be hungry for material goods, but in turn it is a hunger and thirst for knowledge that will need to be quenched in the near future. But how? Not only will people be able to exchange ideas and texts on a regular basis, but the cafeacute itself will become a source of culinary knowledge. ‘Physical and mental food is important for maturity,’ states the consultant, explaining that every time someone consumes a product within the cafeacute, a question will inevitably be posed in their head, ‘how do I benefit from this product?’

Their menu will stand out, as the students look for the ‘wow factor.’ And soon their cafeacute will be on the tips of everybody’s tongues, with intellectual capacity and a pure interest in literary excellence being remembered by everyone who visits. I urge you to visit, not just for the food and the ambience but for the hotbed of ideas and knowledge that this project is bound to entail. It has to succeed, not just for the students, but for Addis itself.

Ed.’s Note: The writer is on an internship at The Reporter.

Source : The Reporter

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