Saturday, 14 September 2013

Abidjan's hidden rainforest

Abidjan, the commercial capital of Ivory Coast, is known for its skyscrapers, the wide sweeping lagoon and of course for footballer, Didier Drogba. But a lesser known fact is that it’s one of the only cities in the world to still have original, virgin rainforest in the middle of the city. Banco forest is a protected national park sandwiched between busy highways – packed with unique plant species, tropical birds and endangered monkeys. It’s also home of one of the oldest forestry schools in Africa. Two years after the conflict in Ivory Coast, the BBC’s Tamasin Ford went to find out what they’re doing to bring the tourists back.

Are tourists ready to come back to Ivory Coast?

It has been a year since Grand Bassam, the first capital of Ivory Coast, was made into a UNESCO World Heritage site. Full of old, French, colonial architecture, tree-lined avenues and artisanal markets - it's cited as one of the country's main tourist attractions. But are tourists ready to come back to post-conflict Ivory Coast? Two years ago post-election violence rocked the country, claiming more than 3000 lives. The BBC’s Tamasin Ford went along to find out.

Ambitious plans for Abidjan zoo

Abidjan Zoo, home to some of the most endangered species on the planet, is embarking on an ambitious project to become a centre of conservation excellence in West Africa.  

The zoo, in the heart of Ivory Coast’s economic capital, almost collapsed during the country’s recent civil conflict.  More than a quarter of the animals died of starvation. 

And many of those who survived were left severely malnourished.  The BBC’s Tamasin Ford reports.

Friday, 13 September 2013

'Telenovelas' dominate the screens in Abidjan

They have passion, mystery, betrayal - and always some strange twist at the end.  We're talking about telenovelas; one of Latin America’s most popular exports.  In August the Spanish language network, Telemundo, launched a 24 hour telenovela channel in Africa, where the suspense-fuelled dramas are a massive hit.

In Ivory Coast, rumour has it some mosques have, in the past, changed the time of the Call to Prayer so it doesn't clash with them. But what is so intoxicating about the dramas?

The BBC’s Tamasin Ford spent an evening in Abidjan watching the country’s most popular one – ‘Sacrifice de femme’.  To listen to this report, please click on this link.

Laurent Gbagbo's son calls for peace

The son of Ivory Coast's ex-President Laurent Gbagbo has told the BBC he wants peace and reconciliation. 

Michel Gbagbo, a university lecturer, was arrested along with his father in April 2011 after disputed presidential elections sparked months of violence. 

Laurent Gbagbo is currently in The Hague facing charges of crimes against humanity. His 43-year-old son, who was freed on bail on 5th August 2013, told the BBC's Tamasin Ford the charges against his family were politically motivated.  

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The villain of Abidjan

A new villain has emerged in Ivory Coast - Delestron, a machete wielding Schwarzenegger lookalike with tiny leather pants.

Named after delestage, the French word for blackout, the cartoon
character roams social media sites
(Image courtesy of Delestron
telling people about the power cuts he's causing across Abidjan, a city that until recently rarely witnessed blackouts. The BBC’s Tamasin Ford reports from Abidjan, the economic capital of Ivory Coast.

To listen to this report please click on this link.

Cervical cancer - the silent killer

More than three quarters of all cervical cancer deaths occur in the developing world – largely because of the lack of screening programmes.  But another little known fact is that HIV positive women are between four and five times more likely to get cervical cancer.  

The BBC’s Tamasin Ford went to visit a clinic for HIV+ women in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Ivory Coast.