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Memories of the Ivory Coast

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Laura Brooks Memories of the Ivory Coast Many people have never heard of the Ivory Coast. It is a vivacious country in my opinion, having lived there and experienced some greatly memorable along with not so pleasurable moments. This West-African Republic was once a French colony where my grandparents and parents lived and immensely appreciated the exquisite quality of life. Unfortunately, this did not remain for very long after 1994 and the death of the long standing President Houphouet- Boigny. Although the natural beauty of the vegetation and African spirit as a whole still remains to this day, the way of life, activities and richness of the country have all deteriorated. Political problems are the main reason for the decline and it became quite dangerous when the young local militia in Abidjan, the capital city where my family and I were living, turned against the French and other Europeans during November 2004. At noon on Thursday 4th November I received a call at home from my teacher informing me of riots happening in a nearby district, blocking the route to school. Hence lessons would be cancelled until Monday. My first reaction was not that of real surprise for this was not the first time this had occurred. ...read more.


When we were told that the looters were in our road and knocking on the doors of Europeans, we began to worry. We had already taken the precaution to close the curtains upstairs to block the view from the outside, in case the sight of furnishings would tempt the rioters. All the iron gates around the house were shut and we took out our English passports. We had to be prepared to come face-to-face with the demonstrators if they decided to break into our house, and hopefully, by only talking in English and showing our passports, they would not harm us. My mother, who is French, used my current English passport, whilst I took my old one; we hoped that this would not be discovered. I was feeling tense as my parents and I sat downstairs in the lounge with closed curtains trying to remain as quiet as possible, attentively listening for any external noises. We did not dare turn on the air conditioning knowing that it would make a noise outside, and the last thing we wanted was to attract attention towards ourselves. I cannot recall exactly what was passing through my mind at that time but I know I was praying and hoping with all my might that we would be alright. ...read more.


Although it was quite frightening driving to the airport it was a huge relief to finally board the plane and fly off to neighbouring Ghana and then back to the UK. It felt quite unreal being back in England when just a few days before we had been virtual prisoners in our own home. All the tension we had felt since the beginning of the problems was released as we arrived back in Woking one bitter morning. It suddenly dawned on us how fortunate we had been not to get attacked or be affected in any way. At last we could unwind and be grateful to be together as a family, safe. Since November very few European families are living together in the Ivory Coast, given that many offices and the international schools have been damaged and are therefore closed. My father is still living there as are many other businessmen in order to keep their businesses running, but the political problems in the Ivory Coast are not yet over. Looking back at everything now, I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to predict what tomorrow will bring, and it is for that reason that you should live every day with a smile, knowing that you are so lucky for what you have. This is certainly my lesson learnt coming so close to what may have happened. ...read more.

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