A Western visitor

It’s almost always interesting meeting people coming to Abidjan for the first time to see with their eyes what they think of the place and what we long-time residents miss. Well, I won’t say these observations haven’t been spotted, but they struck me as insightful.

on arranging meetings – “I find that if you contact the minister / boss directly they’re always happy to meet you, but try going through one of the people around them, especially a secretary, and you’ll never get anywhere.” This must be detrimental. Are ministers / DGs / managers / artists /footballers aware of this? Yes, there are always a million and one people trying to bring their little problems to senior people, but it must be reasonably simple to separate the wheat from the chaff. Sometimes you’re offering a businessman a major international media platform for their enterprise, at no cost, and you can’t get past the 25 year old secretary!

on Ivory Coast’s profile – if you have an unhealthy attachment to the state media, you’d think everyone in the world knows about Ivory Coast and especially that it’s the world’s number one cocoa producer. If follow some supporters of the previous president, you’d think the whole world is hell-bent on stealing the country’s rich resources. The fact is that the majority of people in the West don’t even know that we exist, and that’s the honest truth. At best, they’ve heard of Drogba, who they’d probably say “comes from Africa”. That’s why he’s in the title of the blog, as it’s about the only attachment people may have. Here’s my western visitor’s experiences on paying his hotel bill by credit card. “The guy from my UK bank on the telephone asked me if I was in the UK. I said no, “Ivory Coast”. He said “I didn’t know they had ATMs there” and then “What the hell are you doing there!”” When before his trip he called his card provider to say that he’d be travelling to several countries in Africa the operator said, Zambia: “I didn’t know such a country existed”, Madagascar: “Isn’t that a film?” Cote d’Ivoire: “You’re gonna have to spell that”.

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2 Responses to A Western visitor

  1. famchocolat says:

    So true that i couldn’t help laughing out loud (mainly because of the second point)!
    We often think that we are the center of the world forgetting that this is only our poor little lost world… Lol
    An old singer (GG Vickey) said: “l’Afrique est un beau pays, le soleil y brille tous les jours…” How could others know that there are many countries in Africa, when we are considered as just one country?

  2. Fifi says:

    Oh man, every time I call my bank to let them know that I’m going to Côte d’Ivoire and that they should expect foreign transactions to appear on my account, I get a variation on: “So, where are you going?”
    “Côte d’Ivoire – Ivory Coast – it’s in West Africa.”
    “Oh my cousin went to Cape Town last year! Where in South Africa will you be?”
    “No, not South Africa, West Africa.”
    “Is that near Johannesburg?”
    “No, it’s a completely different region in a completely different part of the African continent.”
    “But South Africa is a country.”
    Sigh.

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