A month ago, during an interview for a new position at the European Commission, I was asked if I could deal with the infamous bureaucracy. I looked at them… and laughed… and laughed. Guys, I work in Ethiopia!

So now, I sold my car and the ownership needs to be transferred. A two minute procedure in most countries. In Ethiopia, day two and I’m still stuck in bureaucratic madness. I feel like I’m in Franz Kafka’s wet dream.

Step one.

Drive to the road authorities where the car is registered. Luckily, it’s in Addis Ababa and not in Axum or something. At the entrance, together with the new owner and three witnesses, I need to fill in this selling-agreement document. Later, the tax is calculated over the selling price. The selling price is below a certain threshold, therefor, the authorities fixed a selling price for us.

The witnesses can be arranged on the spot for a small compensation. If I want to bypass the lines at the road authorities, a witness said, he could arrange it for 1000,- etb. Not negotiable because many people then need to be paid. I refused as I came prepared with a very thick novel.

After a couple of hours in line, I was summoned to a window. A minute later I was told to come back tomorrow. Closing time…

Step two

The selling of the car needs to be authenticated by the court at a notary’s office, or something. I am married and therefore I’m fucked. Literally and figuratively.

Step … oh fuck it…

  • My wife has to be at the notary in person. Check.
  • I need to present a marriage certificate. Check
  • The certificate needs to be in English. Check
  • The certificate needs to be stamped and signed by the Netherlands ministry of foreign affairs in the Hague. Check
  • The certificate needs to be stamped and signed by the Ethiopian embassy in Brussel. Check
  • The certificate needs to be stamped by the Ethiopian ministry of foreign affairs. Check
  • The Ethiopian stamp was older then 6 months, so i needed to get a new stamp. oookaaaay
  • The certificate was just over 2 years old SO THEY REFUSED TO STAMP IT…

…aaaand the usual YOU GO AWAY! Yes, I am trying. I am trying.

to be continued.

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