Why the Name: Abidjan?

Abidjan
Abidjan

After walking on the sandy beaches of Abidjan, I have often romanticized the name of such a beautiful place, and no matter how much intellectual gymnastics I did, I could never decipher its meaning.  After all, I do not speak the local language, but I somehow thought that it could have been a French name with some local texture to it; but which one?

Map of Côte d'Ivoire
Map of Côte d’Ivoire

Well, according to oral tradition of the Ébrié people as reported in the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Côte d’Ivoire, the name “Abidjan” results from a misunderstanding.  Legend states that an old man carrying branches to repair the roof of his house met a European explorer who asked him the name of the nearest village.  The old man who did not speak the language of the explorer, thought that he was being asked to justify his presence in that place.  Terrified by this unexpected meeting, he fled shouting “min-chan m’bidjan“, which means in the Ébrié language: “I return from cutting leaves.”  The explorer, thinking that his question had been answered, recorded the name of the locale as Abidjan.

La ville d'Abidjan
La ville d’Abidjan (source RFI)

A slightly different and less elaborate version of the legend is as such: When the first colonists asked native women the name of the place, the women misunderstood and replied “T’chan m’bi djan“: “I’ve just been cutting leaves“. Thus the name Abidjan.

Originally a fishing village, Abidjan was made the capital city of the French colony after a deadly epidemic of yellow fever decimated the French colonists in 1896 in Bassam.  In 1934, Abidjan became the third capital of Côte d’Ivoire after Grand-Bassam and Bingerville.  It offered more opportunities for trade expansion, particularly with its greater wharf.  In 1983, the capital was moved to Yamoussoukro, the village of then-president Félix Houphouët-Boigny.  However, Abidjan has remained the political and economic heart of the country.

Aerial view of Abidjan (Source: raymondadrienne.blogspot.com)
Aerial view of Abidjan (Source: raymondadrienne.blogspot.com)

Today, Abidjan is Côte d’Ivoire’s largest city, and the third largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris and Kinshasa.  The city is located in the Ébrié Lagoon on several converging peninsulas and islands connected by bridges.  Abidjan is considered a cultural hub for most of West Africa, and Francophone Africa in particular.  It has the biggest port in West Africa, and second largest port of Africa after the Lagos port in Nigeria.  With the political unrest of the past decade which reached its paroxysm in 2011 with the French army bombing strategic places in Abidjan in order to impeach President Laurent Gbagbo (including the presidential palace), the city has been destroyed, and is today going through a rebuilding phase.

Affectionately nicknamed the “Manhattan of the tropics“, “Small Manhattan“, or “Pearl of Lagoons“, because of its impressiveness, Abidjan is a unique city perfect for business tourism.  The place is so beautiful, that the French once considered making Côte d’Ivoire an overseas department of France; it is not so far from it today, but that will be the subject for another day.  The video below is on Côte d’Ivoire as a whole.  Enjoy!

Cote d’Ivoire: 20 ans de destabilisation mis à nu!

Carte de la Cote d'Ivoire
Carte de la Cote d'Ivoire

La journée du 11 Avril 2011 restera à tout jamais marquée dans la mémoire de tous comme étant le jour de l’agression de le France en Cote d’Ivoire, et surtout la re-naissance de la colonisation.

En 1993 à la mort du vieux Houphouet: Alassane Ouattara (ADO) essaie de s’emparer du pouvoir, parce qu’étant premier ministre. Toute une bagarre commence, et heureusement on lui dit qu’on ne peut pas changer la constitution pour lui, car Henri Konan Bédié (HKB) en tant que président de l’assemblée nationale (P.A. N.) est censé assuré l’interim du pouvoir. Il essaie donc un coup d’état constitutionnel! Après avoir été écarté des élections de 1995, ADO dit à HKB: ‘Lorsque je frapperais ce pouvoir, il tombera’.

Le 24 Décembre 1999: coup d’état de Robert Gueï (encore appelé coup d’état du revéillon) qui est en fait soutenu par Ouattara contre Bédié (nous nous souvenons que ADO se proclamait président dans l’avion qui le ramenait de Paris) (1). Mais Gueï (RG) se dit que le fauteuil présidentiel lui va bien… mais il se voit obligé d’organiser des élections.

Le 25 Octobre 2000: Laurent Gbagbo (LG) gagne les élections, et le lendemain ADO (n’ayant pas pu se présenter) lancent les jeunes dans la rue qui se font d’ailleurs tués par les militaries de Gueï (j’appellerai cela un 2ème coup d’état).

7-8 Janvier 2001: Coup d’état dirigé, et atteinte à la vie de LG et sa femme et de Mamadou Koulibaly (P.A.N. de l’heure). Cette-fois-ci c’est une armée…. Mais le coup rate.

Septembre 2002: Une armée venue de l’extérieur et équipée jusqu’aux dents (sous le parrainage de ADO) attaque la CI. Gbagbo étant en Italie, rentre vite (contrairement à tous les chefs d’état de la francafrique) en CI, et est sauvé par la population. Ce coup d’état divise le pays, et force LG a inséré des rebelles illéttrés dans son gouvernement.

2003: accord de Marcoussis qui force LG à déleguer le pouvoir a un premier ministre. LG ne récolte rien sur 60% du territoire.

Laurent Gbagbo
Laurent Gbagbo

2004: la France bombarde toute l’aviation ivoirienne, car l’armée de LG s’apprêtait a récupèrer le nord des mains des rebelles (2). La France crée une zone tampon. Toutes les exactions sont permises en zone rebelle, et aujourd’hui le Burkina Faso est producteur mondial de cacao (eux qui n’ont même pas une cabosse sur leur sol).

Donc au lieu de 10 ans de gouvernement, LG n’aura eu en fait que quelques mois à peine! Car les années qui ont suivis ont vu la cohabitation entre rebelles et gouvernement; les rebelles entérinant tout effort ou projet du gouvernement Gbagbo.

Continue reading “Cote d’Ivoire: 20 ans de destabilisation mis à nu!”

Laurent Gbagbo: No to a complicit silence!

Laurent Gbagbo
Laurent Gbagbo

I was just a child when Thomas Sankara was assassinated… I could not understand my parents’ tears.  I cried when I watched the movie on the assassination of Patrice Lumumba.  Today… with Laurent Gbagbo’s arrest, I collapsed under the weight of tears of pain, hurt, and bitterness.  Today I saw my president and his wife being treated like thieves… whatever their crimes, Moubarak, Chirac, Bush Jr., or even Pinochet, were never treated like this.  Is it because Laurent and Simone Gbagbo symbolize a strong Africa? Or the educated nigger? Or the nigger who wants his freedom? What is wrong with asking people to have a pacific discussion after an electoral litigation? What is wrong with asking people to re-count the votes?

Just last year, my friends were celebrating the 50 years of independence in Africa… and I told them that I could not celebrate a masquerade.  Today the masquerade is unveiled! Bombing an entire country, shooting missiles at hospitals and the president’s residence, a foreign army (France) which sends more than 300 French soldiers, and 50 army tanks to unseat a president supported by at least 50% of the population, and crowned by the country’s supreme court! I screamed: “Why isn’t Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire’s neighbor, doing anything? Why isn’t Angola doing anything? Why isn’t South Africa doing anything? Why isn’t Africa screaming?” In 2011, my country is being bombed by France, and all the other African nations just look! Such apathy! Oh God! They think nobody will do that to them! Not doing anything is being guilty of this crime against Côte d’Ivoire, of this crime against the Black race!

Simone Ehivet Gbagbo
Simone Ehivet Gbagbo

I would like to give a tribute to Laurent and his wife Simone Ehivet Gbagbo. You have opened our eyes…

Laurent Gbagbo is a proud warrior of Africa. He has defended and continues to defend Côte d’Ivoire, and Africa. For the first time in Africa, the president of the republic has on his arms a proud and strong woman, and educated! Doctor in literature, Mrs. Gbagbo has shown us that a first lady is not there for a fashion show (as most African first ladies) or to cut pennants… Being a first lady is also being a deputy in parliament, and being an active member of a party! This is exactly what I want to say: Laurent and Simone have shown us through their fight that you could be Black and dignified… you can be Black and educated, and we have the duty to know the truth! Gbagbo has always shown the truth, and asked for pacific arrangements to problems… Thanks to him and his team at RTI, we’ve been able to see all the diversion and embezzlements of Francafrique… Thanks to him, we’ve been able to see France’s outburst and invasion of Côte d’Ivoire, the lies of Chirac, Sarkozy, etc… and even the existence of a tunnel linking the French embassy to the Presidency. Now that we are enlightened, we will continue the battle!

Continue reading “Laurent Gbagbo: No to a complicit silence!”