Posted by: Martin | September 14, 2010

Observations in Abidjan

A few observations from my first few days in Abidjan:

  • There are practically no roadblocks any longer. Some say it’s because of the upcoming elections, but either way it’s good news, and I hope it’ll last.  Corruption and congestion creating tolls on intra-city travel just make no sense, unless – I guess – you are a president/dictator trying to make it difficult to make a coup d’etat or wanting to give your military forces an extra source of income.
  • The are very few Europeans, or ahem, white people, around, except in – I presume – some enclaves (like zone 4) which I havent visited yet. I criss crossed the whole city today visiting Adjame, Yopougon and Cocody and didn’t see a single one. Guess the travel warnings for the Ivory Coast by western foreign departments plays a role.  Well, the more opportunities for the few of us that are here!

    The non-africans I did see included a nice gentleman from India working in the pharmaceutical industry, some Vietnamese people working at  (you guessed it) a Vietnamese restaurant and a Lebanese man who had stayed here since the war in Lebanon.

  • I missed a perfect photo opportunity when visiting a couple-dollars-a-day family in Yopougon where three children in their mid-teens were completely absorbed playing the real time strategy game Age of Empires on their ten year old computer.   This seems to be something new, these people just didnt have computers when I last checked. Now I have seen plenty of shops selling second hand (or more likely third or fourth hand) stationary computers.  And, well, I spent a big part of my mid-teens playing strategy games on my stationary computer, so hats’ off for those kids!

Here are some more photos from my friend’s place in Yopougon from the previous post:

The ceiling. It might actually just have been rain instead of hail, but it sounded like stones falling from the sky.

The laptop is mine, and the IKEA lamp behind it is a gift from me, but the rest is the real deal.

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Responses

  1. The road blocks have been far fewer for much longer than the recent announcement of elections. You will see them late at night and in the early morning. What you do not appear to have noticed, which is far better news as far as I am concerned, is that the police, as far as their unifrom is concerned, have been “demilitarized” … you do not see them in combat kit, or olive drab, carrying AK47s, but are now in their nice new smart uniforms. The traffic police have a beige uniform, the anti-criminality bracn their black (tank regiment) uniform. See this photo album post by the BBC correspondent on Facebook:

    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=36812894#!/album.php?aid=2398051&id=36812894&fbid=730514665959&ref=mf

    No white people … strange, I see lots, maybe you need to change the tint and strength of your sunglasses !!!!!

    If you go to the biggest supermarket in Cocody-Deux Plateaux (SOCOCE), you will see dozens of whites, male and female, in the bar, in the resataurant, in the supermarket itself, and virtually all the shops (30+) in the mall are run by Lebanese and French.

    And there are a few regular expatriate meeting places in and around Abidjan.

    Most of the Embassies have relaxed the “unaccompanied posting” restrictions, and their are expatriate children in the International School, and the big French Lycee!!!


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