I was in the English equivalent of the Ivorian maquis last night, the pub. It was the sort of place where almost everyone went to the same school as you did and you just need to use a big of imagination to see who turned into what 15 years later (a little fatter, a little less hair, etc). A girl I grew up with said to me: “I suppose you’re sitting around in Ivory Coast just waiting to see if anything interesting will happen?” She was surprised when I told her we’d just had a brief civil war.
I suppose I’m not surprised to see that Ivory Coast isn’t making any of the British news shows looking back on the big events of 2011. The Ivorian Spring doesn’t cut much mustard when compared to the Arab Spring. And with the Japanese earthquake, London riots, Euro crisis and Steve Jobs’ death, there’s not much room for a West African country few could place on a map. It’s difficult for people to be too interested in the overthrow of a leader they’d previously never heard of anyway.
Still, despite the logic of it, I can’t help being a bit shocked that after the stress of rescuing my family from the coming violence, and several days close to the front line listening to bombardments and watching live gun battles, what I witnessed is already forgotten. It puts things in perspective and goes to underline that no story, however important you think it is, is worth risking your life for.
The idea of perspective is an interesting one and something I enjoy when skipping between cultures and continents. The concepts of celebrity, fame and even what’s important are really so relative. Watching the trailer for a tv programme boasting ‘a line-up of famous faces’ of which I recognised no-one, makes it hard to ever take the concept seriously again. I think when you’ve worked in television, the glamour quickly vanishes.
I’m excited about this coming year – more excited than I remember being for a while. If Ivory Coast remains stable and peaceful and grows at the level it’s expected to, you probably won’t hear much about the place, but that’s not necessarily important.