Ivorian Tycoons

I’ve just finished reading the latest issue of ‘Tycoon’ magazine – Ivory Coast’s magazine for the business-minded elite from the Voodoo communications empire. It has an unmatched level of professionalism from the superb photos of Ivory Coast’s elite managers in sumptuous surroundings, to the thick glossy pages. Inside, you’ll see little talk of poverty, conflict and amateurish services – instead almost everyone featured is a success (though knowingly modestly so). Profiles include successful students just starting out (‘On the way’, ‘Tomorrow belongs to them’) to ‘Life of an entrepreneur’ rubrics. Many seem to follow a similar path – a good high school (a hint that there’s often a privileged background), Ivorian high education (INPHB and ENA feature strongly), then a top job for a few years, followed by a masters in the West and then another top job back home.

It’s all very seductive and mixed with adverts for luxury cars and mobile phone networks. In the West, there would be adverts for expensive watches and perfume as well, though apparently this advertising market isn’t well developed in Abidjan. As with other Voodoo publications, there is a fair bit of cross-promotion of the mother company and its other products (cf. since the Life Star nightclub opened, Voodoo’s lifestyle magazine ‘Life’ has hardly shown photos of another club).

In real life, some of these elite folks are very impressive. They can be dynamic, open and intelligent, and to a man/woman they are elegantly dressed. On the downside though, you can’t help feeling there’s a fair bit of bluffing as well. Many of these companies / government departments offer a very poor service, and there’s a fair bit of incompetence even at some of the highest levels – the buck stops with these managers. Arrogance and pride is an area that only a few, but far from all, manage to avoid. It’s hard to imagine the mocking comedy ‘The Office’ being filmed in this context. I’ve never heard it mentioned by Ivorians. Managers are not to be lampooned, but worshipped.

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