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Date : 13th January, 2018
Time : 1h 14’ 05”
Number of runners : 2
Total distance run to date : 1310 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2452288891
On my last trip to West Africa, I had a 90 minute stopover at Abidjan airport in the Ivory Coast. I thought it would be a good opportunity to tick off another country. So I set off on one of my most bonkers runs to date. Which ended up with me literally sprinting round the airport terminal trying to finish the run before I had to board my flight. (Things hadn’t gone entirely to plan…)
After I published the blog about the run, a friend dropped me a note saying, ‘Nice blog and all that but did you actually run in the Ivory Coast? I’m not sure an airport terminal counts.”
I don’t want to completely rule out running in airport terminals as, while they’re not great places to run, there may be some countries where it’s the only safe way to complete my 10km. But I must admit the comment niggled. After all, who wants to have run in every country in the world – except that one country where you ran in an airport terminal?
So when the opportunity arose to revisit the Ivory Coast, as part of the latest trip to West Africa, I jumped at the chance. And this time I definitely got into the country – albeit at some unearthly hour in the morning after almost 20 hours of travel.
My companion for the run was Geoffrey ‘Malawian Gigolo’ Harawa. As you may have guessed from his nickname, Geoffrey is both a hasher and a Malawian. (I won’t delve further into the etymology of his hash name..)
Being a hasher, Geoffrey is used to trails through the countryside and he’d plotted a fascinating route for us. Between the airport perimeter
and Abidjan’s lagoon, there’s an area of land populated by refugees (from Burkina Faso and Togo apparently.) It’s undeveloped and we ran along dirt tracks through vegetation with regular vignettes of village life. And lots of photo opportunities which, in the heat, weren’t altogether unwelcome.
There’s no electricity or running water in this area and, in many ways, it was very different from most of my runs which usually take place on city streets or in city parks. However, despite the disparate setting, I couldn’t help noticing the four constants that I see in countries all over the world.
The first being the humble chicken. I have a lot of respect for vegan and vegetarians, and their beliefs, but I don’t know where the developing world would get its protein without chickens and their eggs. Or should it be the other way round? I’m never quite sure which comes first…
I know, I know, it’s not a great photo. Turns out chickens are quite hard to photograph. However, if you look carefully, you will see a chicken in there somewhere.
The second is plastic. I’m not sufficiently expert on environmental issues to know where plastic ranks as a global problem but, based on what I see (Kosovo and the Marshall Islands spring to mind), it’s a huge concern.
The third, and I hope I’m not going to offend anyone here, is that women seem to do a lot more of the work than men. I should stress that this is something I see all over the world and isn’t particular to the Ivory Coast. What’s that Liz? I should try looking in the mirror….hmm….(Most of the women we met didn’t want to be photographed so it’s another photo mainly of men I’m afraid.)
The fourth is kids kicking a football around. Which was, as always, brilliant to see. (If anyone knows of a charity that does the simple thing of making sure kids all over the word have footballs, then please get in touch as I’m your man.)
Oh yes, and the final similarity with the rest of the world was that, if you say hello with a smile, then it’s remarkable how friendly people are in return. Here are a few words from Zadi (?) – put that man on TV, he’s a natural in front of the camera – wishing Run the World all the best.
Thank you Geoffrey for your time and your company – especially as I know you also had a hash that afternoon. It was a great run and I hope to see you in London one day!
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Facts & Stats
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.
Ivory Coast, also known as Côte d’Ivoire, is a sovereign state located in West Africa. Ivory Coast’s political capital is Yamoussoukro, and its economic capital and largest city is the port city of Abidjan. Its bordering countries are Guinea and Liberia in the west, Burkina Faso and Mali in the north, and Ghana in the east. The Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) is located south of Ivory Coast.
Prior to its colonization by Europeans, Ivory Coast was home to several states, including Gyaaman, the Kong Empire, and Baoulé. Two Anyi kingdoms, Indénié and Sanwi, attempted to retain their separate identity through the French colonial period and after independence. Ivory Coast became a protectorate of France in 1843–1844 and was later formed into a French colony in 1893 amid the European scramble for Africa. Ivory Coast achieved independence in 1960, led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who ruled the country until 1993. The country maintained close political and economic association with its West African neighbors while at the same time maintaining close ties to the West, especially France. Since the end of Houphouët-Boigny’s rule in 1993, Ivory Coast has experienced one coup d’état, in 1999, and two religion-grounded civil wars. The first took place between 2002 and 2007] and the second during 2010–2011. In 2000, the country adopted a new constitution.
Ivory Coast is a republic with a strong executive power invested in its President. Through the production of coffee and cocoa, the country was an economic powerhouse in West Africa during the 1960s and 1970s. Ivory Coast went through an economic crisis in the 1980s, contributing to a period of political and social turmoil. Changing into the 21st-century Ivorian economy is largely market-based and still relies heavily on agriculture, with smallholder cash-crop production being dominant.
The official language is French, with local indigenous languages also widely used. In total there are around 78 languages spoken in Ivory Coast. Popular religions include Christianity (primarily Roman Catholicism), Islam, and various indigenous religions.
World Bank Data
Here’s the latest World Bank data for the Ivory Coast – with the year 2000 as a comparison.
GDP $36.4 bn 2016 $10.7 bn 2000
Population 23.7 m 2016 16.7 m 2000
Primary school enrolment* 94 % 2015 74 % 2000
CO2 Emissions** 0.49 2014 0.41 2000
% below poverty line*** 46.3 % 2015 38.4 5 2002
Life expectancy at birth 53.1 yrs 2015 46.7 yrs 2000
GNI per capita $1520 2013 $640 1995
*Percentage can exceed 100% due to the inclusion of over and under aged students
** Metric tons per capita
***The World Bank notes that the methodology can vary between countries and over time within a given country. (While most of the World Bank data generally follows understandable trends, this number often oscillates wildly suggesting that different methodologies are frequently used over time within a given country.)
Greatest Sporting Nation Data
Finally, here’s the data from Greatest Sporting Nation on how the Ivory Coast performed in the global sporting arena in 2017:
Global Cup – 61st
Per Capita Cup – NA
The Global Cup aggregates results from over 1000 events across 80 sports to produce the definitive annual ranking of international sporting success. The Per Capita Cup uses the same data to produce an annual per capita ranking.