François Kouamé, prisoner Number 67, proudly shows off a sow and her four piglets. Dressed in his rubber boots, he passes by two new tractors as he happily makes his way to a field where pretty soon cassava and corn plants will start growing. “Look at those sprouts. It is a lot of work!”
Two years ago, it would have taken Catherine Adjoua almost an hour to travel from M’Badon, the isolated fishing area where she lives that has no asphalt roads, to reach her workplace some 13 kilometres away in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s economic capital.
Jonas Sanhin Touan has big dreams. As he sits under a canopy, he greets the rare tourist to Gouleako, one of the many villages near the entrance of Côte d’Ivoire’s Taï National Park, with a meal.
When Ivorian Thierry N’Doufou saw local school kids suffering under the weight of their backpacks full of textbooks, it sparked an idea of how to close the digital gap where it is the largest — in local schoolrooms.
“I’m middle class. Definitively,” Sonia Anoh, a young and independent 30-year-old Ivorian tells IPS. Anoh has a master’s degree, earns 1,470 dollars a month working in marketing, lives alone, owns a car and is now shopping for a home.
In West Africa, the Malian and Ivorian political crises have resulted in the biggest number of refugees in the region. But brewing insecurity could mean that they will be unable to return home any time soon as armed groups remain a threat to West Africa.
Armand Konan stood in front of the Palais des Sports, a stadium in Abidjan’s popular neighbourhood, Treichville, selling videos and speeches of former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo. “People need to remember what our president said...He is our president. And we want him back,” Konan told IPS.
Aminata Diarra last saw her brother, Malamine, a member of the Malian Red Berets, special forces loyal to ousted president Amadou Toumani Toure, alive on national television almost two years ago.
Under the harsh Sunday afternoon sun, Daouda Dicko washes his client’s clothes on the shore of the Niger River, which runs through Mali’s capital, Bamako. “I started doing this to survive two years ago. Now, I am used to it and I don’t mind the extra money it brings,” Dicko, who also works as a gardener, tells IPS.
In her traditional orange headdress, Agaichetou Toure sits quietly in a waiting room in Kalaban-Koura, a popular neighbourhood on the outskirts of Mali’s capital Bamako.
In Cote d'Ivoire, traditional hunters known as dozos are accused of human rights abuses and extortion. But in several areas, they also remain the sole guarantor of local safety.
All over the Ivorian economic capital, Abidjan, large cranes, involved in the construction of new buildings and highways, are dotted across the city skyline.
“We are sad. We want our president back,” Yao Amandine told IPS from a street corner in the Ivorian economic metropolis, Abidjan, after the International Criminal Court ruled against granting former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo a conditional release on Tuesday.
As the Côte d’Ivoire government clears its protected forests of illegal occupiers, particularly in the Dix-Huit Montagnes region, environmentalists say that this crucial move might lead to conflict in an already tense region.
In Dakar, urban commuters are familiar with kids as young as five years old begging on street corners at all hours of the day or the night, with torn, dirty clothes, collecting donations in an empty tin can.