Ivory Coast: Random Facts and Trivia

Some random facts and trivia for the country of the world the Ivory Coast, origins of the name, rural vs. city life, women trying to work, foreign companies.



The name "Ivory Coast" was given to the country hundreds of years ago by elephant hunters. Their method was to encircle whole herds of elephants with fire, and, after all the elephants had been killed, to harvest the bodies for the tusks.

Rural Life--Most of Ivory Coast's black natives live in small villages or in tribal communities, working in the forests, farms, mines, and factories. Local customs and tradition ways of life prevail. Political power at the local level is held by tribal chiefs and kings, who can often influence national decisions. Women in the tribes maintain traditional roles according to local custom. In most places, weaving is strictly a male occupation, while the women make pottery.

The Exodus--Through radio and newspapers villagers learn about the cities, where a worker can earn 20 to 30 times a country laborer's salary. Ivory Coast is plagued by thinning rural populations as villagers (mostly men and youths) flock to the cities.

City Life--Distribution of wealth in Ivory Coast is highly unbalanced. In Abidjan, the fashionable Baie de Cocody is inhabited by rich Africans and affluent foreigners. They live in tall, white skyscrapers or luxurious villas on the water. The fun-loving Ivorian elite (businessmen, professionals, plantation owners) share a swinging night life with the European immigrants, in nightclubs and jazz cellars, casinos, cinemas; they shop in expensive boutiques, work in modern office buildings, drive European sports cars on Abidjan's new 6-lane highway.

The poor of Abidjan live in the Treichville district across the bay. They are mostly black natives from the rural villages, living in crowded, small city huts. They work in the factories and fisheries, or sell their wares in the steaming, "quaint" marketplace. Night life is singing and dancing by firelight.

Women have difficulty getting work in the cities. Of all registered job applicants, 81% are men, 19% women. Of all job holders, only 2% are women.

Among the foreign companies doing business in the Ivory Coast are: Development and Research Corporation (U.S.--completing a deepwater port in San Pedro); Kaiser Engineering and Construction (U.S.--hydroelectric dam in Kossou); Pickands Mather and Company (U.S.--mining iron ore in Bongolo); Union Carbide (U.S.--dry-cell battery factory); Renault (France--car assembly in Abidjan); Esso, Shell, Erap (U.S.--off-shore drilling for oil).

Serving as an Ivorian senator in Paris in the 1950s, Victor Biaka-Bodo returned to his native land to do some electioneering. He traveled into the bush to acquaint himself with his fellow countrymen, and disappeared soon afterward. In 1953, an official court declared that Biaka-Bodo had been eaten by his constituents.

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