In a market, lives are nourished and livelihoods sustained. Consumers and vendors meet to barter and exchange. Life happens.

Welcome to Aroge Gebeya,
Hawassa, Ethiopia

Aroge Gebeya is the largest and most bustling open market in Hawassa.  Most who live here get their food here. Like traditional markets the world over, nearly everything is sold, from vegetables, to meats, to fruits, to grains, to non-food items.  The heart of the city, the market is the perfect place to meet the Hawassa community.



Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy. And dealing with that grief can be twice as hard during the holidays. Whether it’s sudden or because of a long illness, the first holiday after the loss of a loved one changes the way a family celebrates a holiday. When Sibre Alemayehu, resident of Hawassa, often visits Aroge Gebeya to buy some food items, everything reminds her of the saddest moment which she can’t forget, even twenty-five years later. "I remember everything as if it happened just yesterday, " recalls Shibre, a 68 year old single mother who lost her husband seven years ago. In Gurage Culture, each year, a chosen woman is put in charge of preparing food and hosting families from the neighborhood for the Meskel festival, a favorite religious fest among the Gurage people, which has a great linkage with traditional food and drinks. It was Shibire's turn that year; she had long anticipated that special day and was excited to host her houseguests. It is a time that the sun comes out to shine all day-long creating an atmosphere of dazzling clarity and fresh clean air. The highlands turn into gold as the Meskel daisies burst out in all their splendor. This is a time of year where there is lots of hustle and bustle, socializing with family and friends. "It is a great opportunity for the women; the fest gives you a chance to host the families and provide them with the most delicious meals from your kitchen," Shibre explains. The women begin to store butter for the next Meskel as soon as the feast is over. Their monthly arrangements also include home decoration. Shibire started to prepare foods and drinks three months before the holiday. Every time she had some cash, she went to the market and shopped for items to make her recipes complete. "Since I was careful not to provide a bad meal and avoid bad mouthing woman, I wanted to make sure everything was planned out and timed just right." said Shibre, who claims to be a good cook. Unfortunately, a week before the Meskel celebration, Shibre lost her mother who lived in a nearby village. She went to the village accompanied by all her neighbors who were her guests. Over the past months, Shibire was only thinking about the fest to be held at her home and was not expecting such bad things to happen. Everyone in her village feels sad about the loss of her mother. Shibre stayed a month in the village with her other brothers and sisters and spent the holiday with mourning. With decades passed, behind all the families, with abundant food and drinks, Shibre says she still couldn't get the full sense of the holiday season. "I have celebrated 25 Meskel celebrations without her, and I always remember her during the Meskel seasons," said Shibre who could not bear her own children and who lost her mom, her lifelong friend and consultant. “I miss her more the older I get, because I know I'm missing out on the only person who feels my pain. And she was gone. Just gone.” Now Shibire lives in Hawassa with her stepdaughter, cleaning streets of the city to earn a living.

Maya Misikir - IMG_2339.jpeg

Aroge Gebeya is the largest and most bustling open market in Hawassa. 

Like traditional markets the world over, nearly everything is sold at Aroge Gebeya, from vegetables, to meats, to fruits, to grains, to non-food items.


As the crossroads of the city, it is the perfect location to learn about the people of Hawassa through their own stories. 

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