Poor though it maybe, Africa is a beautiful place, rich in natural resources. When I move away from the hustle-bustle of city life and open my eyes and ears, I realize there’s so much to see and appreciate here. While I try to capture some of it with my pen (or more literally speaking, keyboard), there’s so much that cannot be conveyed in words.
Here are some pictures that give a glimpse of the land I live in.
Abidjan, the main city of Ivory Coast, is nestled by a lagoon that brings the Atlantic Ocean right up till our toes! To truly enjoy the stunning beauty of blue skies and waters, a boat ride into the middle of the lagoon is a must.
This discovery was made on an Easter weekend, when we decided to go over to a resort, that lay deep within the lagoon. The island, Ile Boulay, was only accessible from the water and hence, a boat ride was necessitated. Oh, what a beautiful ride that was! We saw many other villas and resorts cocooned among palm fronds, appealing to visitors who wanted a weekend away from the humdrum of city life.
Abidjan’s lagoon and proximity to the Atlantic makes it a port city. This alone does wonders to the economy, bringing in trade avenues that open this country to the rest of the world. Speckled along the port cities of Abidjan and San Pedro, one can see ships ranging from the size of a bungalow to that of a multi-story building! I once had the unique opportunity to step onto one of these ships, and see the insides. The humongous vaults within that transport cocoa, coffee, palm and so much more across the oceans, astounded me.
It is amazing what a humble cocoa bean can achieve. This bean may look unappealing, but it lies behind what is also known as the ‘food of the gods’, chocolate! Yes, all the chocolate that we crave and eat in the world comes from this tiny bean. With what ease we pick up a bar of chocolate, order a chocolate ice-cream or bake ourselves a chocolate cake. It is only after coming to Ivory Coast that I learnt to appreciate the story behind the chocolate.
Did you know that 70% of the world’s cocoa supply comes from West Africa? Ivory Coast alone provides a third of the world’s supply. The globe may know little about Africa, but tomorrow, if chocolate were to disappear off the super-market shelves in the world, everyone would become aware of these few tiny countries. What large influence this region wields on our lives, and we don’t even know about it!
Despite the world’s dependence on Ivory Coast for its chocolate and Ivory Coast’s dependence on cocoa trade to support its economy, the biggest irony stems in the reality of a cocoa farmer’s life. I remember being surprised at the fact that though cocoa was available in plentiful supply in this country, it was not being processed into chocolate here. That part of the chain takes place in The Netherlands, UK, Belgium etc. By the time the chocolate is made, packed and exported back to Ivory Coast for consumption, it becomes rather expensive. While I could easily find a bar of chocolate in India for Rs 20 (USD 0.30), in Ivory Coast, the price of this commodity begins at Rs 100 or Rs 150 (over USD 2.0).
While that figure may not seem prohibitive to most readers, here’s a simple fact to put things into perspective. Most cocoa farmers in upcountry Ivory Coast have lived their entire lives supplying you the chocolate you crave, but have never eaten one themselves! Carrying the point forward, you can imagine that neither have their children.
This is just one of the many paradoxes and amazing facts about Ivory Coast.
If you enjoyed this post, stay tuned, I’ll be back with more images and snippets from Africa.
Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.