I was at an ex-pat party at the weekend. Very enjoyable conversation even if my contact with this particular community has fallen drastically in recent years. Near the end of the evening, the conversation turned to Dicko, the keeper of the sacred crocodiles in Yamousosukro, who met a grisly end several weeks ago. To my great surprise though, almost no-one had heard of the incident.
I was a little taken a back. The story had been on the front pages of virtually every Ivorian newspaper, it dominated blogs, facebook (especially the youtube videos of the event) and twitter. There were three tv reports on the nightly Ivorian news including an interview with the governor of the capital city. The incident has even given rise to a local expression ‘as ungrateful as the crocodiles in Yamoussoukro’, who of course literally bit the hand that had fed them for several decades. It was without doubt one of the main topics of conversation among Ivorians during August.
And yet, I suddenly found a group of well connected and intelligent people, living in Abidjan, who hadn’t heard the story. It made me wonder how well informed humanitarian actors really are about life here – how close are they to Ivorian matters if such a major event escaped their notice? If you’d asked what the party-goers thought about Michelle Obama’s convention speech or the last episode of House they’d probably all have an opinion.