Christmas in Abidjan, Part II

10 years later : December 1999 – December 2009

Abidjan’s Sweeper

By the end of 1999, the world was fearing everything would collapse because of the millenium bug. A gigantic computer meltdown that would turn the year 2000 into a post-apocalyptic moment. That didn’t happen.

What happened in Côte d’Ivoire, however, was the Comité National de Salut Public. Unlike the millenium bug, which was  expected to happen but unwelcomed, the military putsch which brought Robert Guei to power, was a pleasant surprise  for Ivorians. I’m not saying it was something good, I’m just saying people welcomed it with cheers.

Maybe the people were tired with the degrading economic situation, decreasing revenues and inflation. Maybe it was the political ineptness, the exclusion of northerners and the general corruption of the System. Perhaps it just started as a pure military problem (it started as a mutiny from unpaid soldiers).

On december 25th, the streets were filled with people applauding the hero of the day, “le Père Noël”, General Robert Guei.
Ever since that day, Abidjan is filled with armed soldiers. Men with heavy weaponry are managing the street traffic. Ivorians got used to violence, killings, and war dialogues. Coups, mutinies, massacres are daily stuff in newspapers.

The “Sweeper”, as he called himself, didn’t bring the gift Ivorians were expecting that Christmas, only more trouble for the average African.


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