For years, Ivory Coast has been split politically and at times torn by outbursts of violence. Youth are working for peace in the West African nation.
Voters at a polling station during the first round of Côte d’Ivoire’s presidential election in Abidjan, 31 October 2020 (EPA-EFE/LEGNAN KOULA)
This story was a runner-up in News Decoder’s 8th Storytelling Contest.Ivory Coast faces an uncertain future after elections marred by violence, but three young citizens of the West African country are promoting peace and stability in a divided nation. President Alassane Ouattara took a strong early lead after Saturday’s voting as he seeks a third term in an election that has been marked by deadly violence and an opposition boycott. A former French colony, Côte d’Ivoire was divided in half for nearly a decade between 2002 and 2011 after a failed coup attempt in 2002 against the presidency of Laurent Gbagbo led rebels to seize control of the northern part of the country. The war came to an end in 2011 when Ouattara took power after extremely contentious elections marked by widespread violence between supporters of Ouattara and Gbagbo that killed at least 3,000 people. Ouattara has presided over a period of relative stability since 2011. In August, Ouattara announced that he would stand for a third term in office following the death of Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, a Ouattara protégé who was the ruling party’s candidate for the presidency and among the favorites. Ouattara’s announcement reignited tensions between his supporters and the opposition, who accused the leader of violating a two-term limit set by the constitution. The dispute led to violence before the first round of voting that killed more than 30 people. At least another five people died in clashes on election day, Reuters quoted officials as saying on Sunday.
Youth believe peace is possible in Côte d’Ivoire.Some Ivorians are fighting for a peaceful future. Emmanuel Adjanor is an 18-year-old Ivorian who is passionate about literature and has written several books, including “Fragile,” which won a prize earlier this year in a pan-African literary competition. A blogger for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Adjanor launched #Pourlapaixjem’engage (“I’m committed to peace”), which has involved more than 50 personalities across the country, including Ivorian athlete Murielle Ahoure. “When I think of the deadly protests and all these threats on the internet, I feel very worried, I would even say scared, about the political situation in Côte d’Ivoire,” Adjanor said in an interview. “But above all, I am confident that it is still possible that the future will be bright.”
Women could change things for the better in Ivory Coast.Yasmina Traoré is involved with U-Report Côte d’Ivoire, a UNICEF social messaging tool and data collection system, and last year was in charge of the Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) club at the American Embassy in the nation’s economic capital, Abidjan. In an interview, Traoré said lasting political reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire will require the greater involvement of women in the political arena. Women make up only 8% of politicians in Côte d’Ivoire, according to the African Union. “I strongly believe that with them, we could change things for the better. So why not give them the means to do so?’’ Traoré said. “Given the sad events of the past few weeks, I am pessimistic that the next few weeks will conduct us to peace. However, I continue to believe in a better future for all Ivorians, facilitated by greater youth participation.” Traoré’s most recent project to promote peace, backed by U-Report, involved a campaign to help citizens from working-class neighborhoods to conduct themselves peacefully during the electoral period and to reject violence.
Gangs have terrorized citizens.According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), more than half of the 126,700 Ivoirians who were displaced during a 2010-2011 post-election crisis were children. Human rights activist Bénie Konan considers the plight of children unacceptable. President of the Human Rights Club of the Modern College of Cocody, Konan has organized theater performances, conferences and a musical disco to promote peace and to be, in her words, a “voice of the voiceless.” “I feel like my actions now will be truly decisive,” Konan said in an interview. “That is why I am more determined to continue to promote peace.” Konan said she is writing to the African Union Commission for Human rights to draw attention to “Microbes” — juvenile gangs in Abidjan who terrorize the population. The opposition has accused the government of using the gangs to intimidate opponents. Konan hopes gang members will eventually be reintegrated into society. “Our leaders promised us after the 2010 crisis that there would be no more armed conflict, but they did not keep their word,” Konan said. “I feel betrayed and neglected.”
Three questions to consider:
- Where is Côte d’Ivoire located?
- Why is the opposition boycotting Côte d’Ivoire’s presidential election?
- How can young people help unify a country that is divided politically?
Adayé Sosthène Yvan N’guettia is a first-year student from Côte d’Ivoire at the African Leadership Academy. He is a volunteering tutor at BigDream NGO and a member of U-Report Côte d’Ivoire. He has a keen interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as in politics, and aspires to become a mechanical engineer or diplomat. In his spare time, he enjoys computer programming and coding.
Félicitation frère !
The political situation in Ivory Coast is critical but we, the ivorian youth, can make a change. And I am glad to see that through this article, there are young people who promote the peace and this is a great mean to build a road toward a peaceful and bright future. Congratulations guys for your article.
I find it very interesting and promoter Yvan … it’s good!
I strongly believe that peace is possible in Côte d’Ivoire and us, the new generation, will accomplish this peaceful future. Congratulations Yvan for this article!
Look at Yvan man so inspirational
Very good article!!!, your spirit of genius
an article full of truth and seen by a citizen who lived thank you for this post, the young Ivorians finally have the right to speak
Article très intéressant… c’est vraiment à lire
This article is full or trues that we refuse to see but exist really
Its amazing to see people my age do things I thought to be very hard. It has inspired me to do more. And thanks for bringing these great young people to my attention through this amazing article!
Congratulations Yvan. It is a very good article, it represents the reality and the truths of the situation in the country. Ivory Coast is our home. If the adults refuse to act, we young people fight to protect it.
Congratulations ivory coast is proud of you
It’s so inspirate and continue like this you can wake up the african younger. I’m so proud of you
L ‘avenir de l ‘Afrique appartient à la jeunesse. Bon article et bien inspiré. Toutes mes félicitations et merci pour ta contribution pour la paix en Côte d’Ivoire.
This article is so true and you show us the involvement of some youths who are admirable examples. Hope you will continue like this and congratulations .
C’est très intéressant tout ça mais il faut reconnaître aussi que si la population arrêtait de confondre ethnie de politique cela pour éviter bien de crise en Côte d’Ivoire. La jeunesse doit en effet s’impliquer de plus en plus dans la société et dans tout ce qu’y entour elle doit monter qu’elle ne s’implique pas dans cet genre de conflit pour pousser nos aînés à la réflexion.
Wow you gave me a whole different vision of Ivorian politcs
Very good article, so inspiring. Congrats!
Really happy to see that among all these young that are unconscious and don’t show any interest to change their country’s situation there are some that are really determined to change things. Determination that is not only shown by their words but by their actions. Hoping that we will impact the next generations to create a better world
After reading this article I am so thrilled and just prood how many times youths of my age give the best to restor a better community all to say a better world . I can just say them congratulations and good luck for the rest
This article inspire me so much
This is well written and very good
A la lecture de cet article, on comprend que la démocratie n’a jamais partie gagnée. Elle est toujours remise en question, fragile. La Côte d’Ivoire a pu la connaitre durant sa jeune existance mais l’a perdu. Espérons que cela ne soit que temporaire. J’ai lu par ailleurs un article (je ne me souviens plus dans quel journal français) qui expliquait que malheureusement ce sont les plus âgés qui remettaient en cause cette démocratie alors qu’ils devraient, au contraire, être les sages auprès de qui on doit pouvoir trouver conseil…
This polical period in Cote d’Ivoire has physically, emotionally and financially affected citiziens due to some protest. Côte d’Ivoire has seen difficult time and actually need peace for its developement. The country need young people, future leaders to start taking steeps. And I think that this article is interesting and motivation for other young Ivoirian, because it breaks down the real potical facts in Ivory Coast and it is adressing our actual leaders to make their possible for peace. I just can say congrats and thank you to these young leaders for their engagement. This might inspire others to make our future BRIGHT.
Este articule es una llamada a todos jovenes de Costa de Marfil a trabajar para que la paz sea una realidad. Gracias, Yvann, por todo, tu texto muestra la realidad de ahora en Costa de Marfil.