Our driver was a polite and shy gentleman who spoke no English at all. This wasn’t much of a problem until my two companions stepped out of the vehicle and wove their way hurriedly into a rousing bank to exchange some U.S Dollars for CFA. I hate to wait. Idling in a stationary vehicle with many shooting days ahead forced me to unlock my box of rusticated French so I could get some answers out of my new shy friend.
So how far are we from Gagnoa? Is the road good now? Is your vehicle strong enough? I was busy dishing out my terribly phrased questions to him in large chunks that seemed to choke him. He grinned intermittently but gave me very few answers. After forever, Maxime and Christoph came to his rescue. Finally, we were actually on our way to Gagnoa.
Meandering out of the grasp of Abidjan had been no easy task but the beautiful, healing, loud city had no choice but to let us go. A few kilometres after Divo, our vehicle started to dance sporadically as if it had been possessed by some fetish or Mapouka spirit.
We never got to Gagnoa but fortunately, the assignment didn’t have to suffer for our poor choice in vehicle. We got a new one and a new driver and everything went well from there.
These photographs are from my last assignment for Nestle´. As part of their contribution to the fight against child labour, the company is building schools for deprived farming communities.
The twist in the story, however, is that whilst the original intent of building the schools was to help children go to school instead of working on farms, the adults in the communities, who once were the children who didn’t go to school, are capitalising on the opportunity and also receiving lessons. I wish them all the best.
This is the story of Africa. It is a story of resilience. It’s a story of a proud and powerful people who by all standards should call themselves victims but choose rather to arise above the effects of colonialism, corrupt governments, tribal wars and the millions of other troubles that try to sink them.
Have a Merry Christmas… and always remember it is never too late to get better.