Bad Stuff Happening
I thought of putting together stories of what can be described as “bad stuff happening in Abidjan” as I have been told by friends and friends of friends.
- In a mixed ethnicity neighbourhood in central Yopougon where a friend of mine is living, one morning two days before the second round all the doors of houses where northerners live were marked with crosses. The crosses were quite small and made with chalk and possible to scrub away, but it still – understandably – caused quite a commotion among the dioula and senoufo community. [Dioula and Senoufo are both northern ethnic groups]
- One woman in this neighbourhood who is a grassroot RDR member (RDR is Ouattara’s party) and got her front door marked thought it was too dangerous to stay, and moved to another part of Abidjan to stay with a friend of hers who is a policeman. One and a half week ago, the policeman, who is not involved in politics at all, was called to a meeting with his boss who told him “We have heard that you host rebel meetings at your home”. The policeman has not (yet) lost his job (or his life), but says he is kept under surveillance. The woman has since left the country.
- A friend of a friend is dioula and lives in Yopougon but a different part of Yopougon than above. He voted for Ouattara and didn’t keep it a secret, but is not involved in the RDR party or politics at all. A week after the second round at night, three armed guys in civilian clothes broke into his home and stole money as well as his and his wife’s id cards. The intruders didnt do any physical harm, but told them “Vous les gars du RDR on va vous tuer un a un” [You RDR guys, we will kill you one by one].
State of fear
Even though the number of incidents like these are small compared to the total population of Abidjan, I think practically all northerners in Abidjan have stories like this to tell ( and more than I have) as everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who has been the victim of Gbagbo’s regime in one way or another.
This creates an ever present state of fear which doesn’t stop people from partying at night – it’s the Ivory Coast we are talking about after all – a place where nightclubs during the curfew back in the civil war days in 2002 filled up with people for all nighters. Still I’m sure it’d be a great relief for northerners in the southern part of Ivory Coast if Gbagbo left power.