Friday, September 5, 2014

Yamoussoukro

I have been anxious to get out of Abidjan and see more of Côte d'Ivoire, so a group of us headed to Yamoussoukro. After a 2 hour drive on excellent roads we entered what I imagine an American suburb in West Africa to look like -- wide roads with people too poor to have cars mostly on foot and bicycles.  After an incredible lunch, we made our way to the Basilica which is one of the most impressive engineering feats I have ever seen.

I am not going to say much about Yamoussoukro because the city and its landmarks are an incredible source of pride for many Ivorians, and I wouldn't want to rain on that parade. As an expat in Abidjan, much of my life is disconnected from local realities. The visit to the Basilica left me feeling troubled because I couldn't take in the beauty of the place -- I could only think of the better uses for the money elsewhere. That said, the locals were really, really nice people and the change of pace compared to Abidjan was palpable.
The road leading to the Basilica 

Walking up to the Basilica
The Basilica's dome
Inside the Basilica
The Presidential palace is surrounded by a moat filled with crocodiles
If you live in the presidential palace and you want to stave off a coup, just add some crocodiles to the water surrounding the palace and hope for the best. :-)  

This munchkin was ready for his close-up



4 comments:

  1. I can't help but think that you might have forgotten that we are a country that was at war for quite some time. The Basilica was built in what I like to call our Golden Age, when it used to be the African el Dorado. So I, for one, don't think that the money should have gone anywhere else. It reminds us of the better days that we had, and remains to make us see what we shall work toward to. Rebuilduing everything that once was, and make this country a the one that my great-grandfather expected it to be today, for us. The war ended not that long ago and we are barely seeing the end of the tunnel... or, are we, really ? This is our duty, and our legacy. And hopefully we will make it.

    My first time on your blog. It is interesting to have an insight of an american on so many things. Especially for us, whom have been studying abroad, got used to the "western" way of life, and are planning to return. Thank you, I will be visiting soon.

    S. An.

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  2. Hi,
    I never forgot that Côte d'Ivoire had conflict in the near past. That said, I believe that some of the seeds of that conflict were sown in the times of prosperity, when ruling elites spent lavishly on pet projects that didn't improve people's lives.
    The Ivorian people would have been much better served by having a sovereign wealth fund established to provide income when the economy slowed, or a series of infrastructure projects to properly develop the interior of the country.

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  3. The photographs are really amazing and interesting. Thank you very much for the sharing.

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  4. A presidential palace with a moat? Sounds like a castle alright. :)
    And yes, the road feels empty..

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