Côte d'Ivoire: Terre d'Espérance
Updated: Aug 8, 2018
Let's do the Math: 9.985 million km²/ 322,462 km²... Canada is 30.95 times bigger than Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). Not only on the surface, but from the weather to the economy and everything in between (governance, industrialization, politics…) these two countries cannot be compared.
I was born and raised in Abidjan, but have been living in Winnipeg (Manitoba-Canada) for the past ten years. Oddly enough, I see a lot of similarities between Canada and Côte d’Ivoire of which the media does not inform people. It is unfortunate to see how they are always drawing a line of demarcation between Third World countries and the rest of the World, without explaining how it all began.
With no doubt, Ivory Coast is considered a ''Third World'' country. Not to justify the poor governance of the leaders, this underdevelopment has a lot to do with the harsh History of this country. From Slavery up until the End of Colonization, Côte d’Ivoire resources were used to serve other countries' growth. Our languages and culture were to be changed because they were considered less than appropriate to the Colons' standards only fifty-eight years ago! Pretty recent éh?
As much as Nelson Mandela is an Emblematic figure in Africa and all around the World, French-speaking Sub-Saharan Africans also have their Heroes. His Excellence Mr. Felix Houphouet Boigny, First President of Côte d’Ivoire was one of them. He fought for our freedom and wanted the name of the country to remain Côte d’Ivoire. It has now been translated to 'Ivory Coast' which is part of the reason why I use both names in most of my posts.
Today, like every 7th of August since 1960, we celebrate our Independence in remembrance of our victory over a Systemic Injustice. Thankfully, for the past decades, Côte d’Ivoire was able to stabilize its political climate allowing a fast-economic growth and is now 13th place among most of the powerful countries in Africa * according to recent reports from the International Monetary Found (IMF) and The World Bank. Investors are now rushing their way to Côte d’Ivoire, looking for business opportunities and here are five (5) facts you should how about my birth country in comparison to the Canadian lifestyle:
1-Coffee and Chocolate Producers
In case you did not know, Cote d’Ivoire is the first PRODUCER OF COCOA IN THE WORLD*. Unfortunately, we’ve been dethroned by Latin- America countries in the production of Coffee but still come in 14th place. To all the Canadians coffee and cocoa Lovers, every time you sip a cup of your favorite hot drink or grab your favorite chocolate bar, think about Ivory Coast because it might come from there!
2- A Multicultural country
Another similarity I could think of is the diversity and multiculturalism. In terms of population, ethnicity and culture we have a lot in common. We are a Laic country meaning wherever you are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist …you are welcome to practice your religion or to practice nothing at all with no judgement. We are considered one of the most welcoming country in West-Africa and very open to Western Culture. We have many franchises in the Fast Food industries such as Burger King, KFC and big Malls. Plus, the social lifestyle is for every taste, so our guests or permanent immigrants feel at home.
3-A French Speaking country (open to Bilingualism)
French is our first and only national language; the reason being that we have over 67 native languages, the new generation did not get the chance to learn. They were forbidden at schools during the Colonization. I happen to speak mine a little bit because when I was young, I was always visiting my grand-parents on the countryside at every school break. Nowadays, English is more and more spoken because it is mandatory to learn it in the Ivorian Educational system (from 5th-12th grade) adding to the influence of Globalization. So, no excuse not to come visit because of a language barrier…
4- A Great Vacation destination
In my 5 reasons why I love Canada, I have shared on how much I enjoy Canadian Road trips. Well, you cannot talk about Ivory Coast without mentioning the Beaches and the Landscape... The tourism sector is gaining momentum with the introduction of glamorous Airbnb & guest houses and luxurious Hotels. Plus, the new roads & bridges constructions make the drive enjoyable and quicker to the beaches in the South, Hills in the West, Prairies in the Center and beautiful Artisan villages in the North.
Although Ivory Coast is more ‘’ soccer’’ oriented, the intensity of passion for the sport is the same as Canadian's love for ''Hockey''. We all have passion for sport; it brings the country together. This year, the Jets (our local hockey team) were in the playoffs for the Stanley Cup (Hockey competition) and went very far in the competition. I was astonished to see Canadians as expressive and passionate about sport as they were during that season! I mean, from businesses to schools, even churches, everybody was very intensely living this moment . Patriotically, every week there was a ‘White Out’ Party in the streets of the City. This atmosphere brought me right back to Abidjan when Ivory Coast won the African Cup of Nations in 2015 … the euphoria of it all and I loved it!
We have a lot in common than we think that I could keep writing for days…The truth is many countries are struggling with political peace and all kinds of issues, not only in Africa! All around the World, security matter is a serious concern. My point with this post is to encourage you to keep an open mind when having an opinion about an African country or any country. Meet new people, ask around and do your research before making up your mind. Seasons come and go and right now is a very good season for Ivory Coast. My prayer is for a new generation to rise and lead this country in Righteousness and Prosperity.
Bonne fête d’Indépendance à ma belle patrie!
Here are some interesting links for your lecture, bye for now...
credit photo : Adama Touré