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Throughout history, every subculture within the human population has at one time been at odds with another. This competitive spirit stems from the great race to collect a majority of the world’s finite resources for the dominance of one’s familial group. Human beings own sense of infallibility coupled with the fear of death have driven many of nations to claw at the world’s resources with the desire to survive. Côte d’Ivoire, also known as the Republic of Ivory Coast is a country located within the western region of Africa. Much like multiple African countries that eventually became unwilling host to parasitic colonialism Côte d’Ivoire is still reeling from its effects.
If one were to travel throughout Côte d’Ivoire they would hear a multitude of Ivorian languages spoken. One might be surprised to hear French spoken fluently throughout the country. On August of 1960, Côte d’Ivoire won its independence from France (Mundt et al., 2018). France granted independence to Côte d’Ivoire under President Felix Houphouet-Boigny (Ivory Coast Profile, 2018). President Felix Houphouet-Boigny held this power for more than thirty years (Ivory Coast Profile, 2018).
France had obtained formal colonial rule over Côte d’Ivoire in 1893. France already had a trading presence within the country and decided to extend their protectorate rule over Côte d’Ivoire entirely (Mundt et al., 2018). As France exercised its sovereignty over the country it became an official French colony (Mundt et al., 2018). The move to colonize Côte d’Ivoire was preceded with the goal to exploit the nation’s natural resources. The presence of Portuguese merchants may have also had some influence on France’s decision to claim Côte d’Ivoire as its own. The combination of wanting to outdo competitors (Portuguese merchants) and become dominant in the trade world was incentive enough to leech off the land. The incentive to cultivate Côte d’Ivoire by turning the country into an export colony was easy with military control over the people and the vast amount of resources located within the land. Pre-independence Côte d’Ivoire had an abundance of natural resources that included ivory, Cocoa beans, coffee and human beings (Mundt et al., 2018). Present day Côte d’Ivoire is the top producer of cocoa beans in the world (Ivory Coast Profile, 2018).
Côte d’Ivoire was well known prior to french invasion as a top ivory trader and this is how it became known as the Ivory Coast (A Brief History of Côte d’Ivoire, n.d.). During the time of the transatlantic slave trade, Côte d’Ivoire was aptly renamed as “The Slave Coast” due to the massive amount of slave trading that took place along its borders (Pruitt, 2016). Even with the presence of military leaders who were resistant to French colonialism African people of “The Slave Coast” were vulnerable to being captured or traded into lives of bondage across seas. The military prowess of resistance fighters like Samori Touré were not enough to hold off the French military and Touré was eventually captured by the French Army (Handloff, 1988). France had the desire to be a leader in the trade world. This accompanied with the growing agriculture industry of the Americas and the Caribbean increased the demand for human livestock. This demand coupled with the surplus of an African population birthed the slave trade in Côte d’Ivoire. During the 16th century, slavery on the western coast of Africa began to flourish (Nunn, 2006). The Slave trade in Côte d’Ivoire lasted centuries and was not abolished until 1905 (A Brief History of Côte d’Ivoire, n.d.).
The transatlantic slave trade along the coast was an extension of the combined parasitic reach of both French and American imperialism. This grave crime against humanity had a destabilizing effect on the government and culture of Côte d’Ivoire as well. This parasitic fungus depopulated most of Africa, immensely affecting Côte d’Ivoire. Centuries of hoarding African people off to America to live in bondage resulted in the underdevelopment of Côte d’Ivoire. When millions of African people were forcibly taken to live in captivity in foreign countries primary and secondary family groups in Côte d’Ivoire were splintered. Fractured families were left behind and abductees were now on strange land beginning a long life of strenuous work under inhumane living conditions. Even descendants of the Ivorian people in the Americas were affected by their loss of culture. Most descendants born into bondage never knew they were born free. The concept of second class citizenry was injected into the psyche of their descendants who are modern day African-Americans.
Slaves were not taken from Côte d’Ivoire and brought to other parts of the world. African people with the potential to lead their countries in science, math, literature, social sciences, the arts, and other leading industries were. People are resources. When slavers permanently extracted Ivoirians from their land their economic and cultural welfare was grossly compromised. These effects of the slave trade in Côte d’Ivoire are still felt today. The same resources that the Portuguese, American, and French exploited from Côte d’Ivoire should have allocated amongst natives as they saw fit. The people of Côte d’Ivoire would have continued to use their natural resources for trade had parasitic imperialist not imposed themselves upon Ivorian freedom.
The endorsement of gender equality must take precedence in Côte d’Ivoire. Girls must be educated to allow Ivoirians’ to produce a country of female intellectual leaders. When gender equality is a priority women own land which inevitably contributes to the agricultural bank of the country and allow its economic base to expand. When women are oppressed we see the dehumanization of half of the human population leading to a backwards remedial state of affairs.
Tangible “all‐embracing” strategies and solutions were outlined in the National Development Plan which was formulated by Ivorian politicians, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (International Monetary Fund, 2013).The National Development Plan foresees the implementation of:
…gradual creation of inter‐regional road networks, the renovation and creation of primary and secondary schools, technical schools and universities, the building of affordable housing, and the renovation and expansion of the electricity grid and the water supply network. (International Monetary Fund, 2013).
The National Development Plan recommended the development of youth jobs to halt the exploitation of children who labor in fields to meet the world’s insatiable desire for chocolate (International Monetary Fund, 2013). Côte d’Ivoire is capable of reconstructing itself and this reconstruction must include the elimination of forced child labor that exists today to produce cocoa beans (O’Keefe, 2016). This repugnant practice is harmful as children whom do not yield enough crops during their eighty to one hundred hour work week and face the threat of imminent violence. Chocolate companies must be held accountable and forced to engage in fair trade by certifying their cocoa beans to have not been harvested by children trafficked or forced by their families to perform free labor.
Overall, centuries of bondage fractured the infrastructure of Côte d’Ivoire and its familial groups. If colonizers had left Africa untouched it would have a much more stable environment today. This parasitic legacy is outlined in any historical timeline of the destabilized government of Côte d’Ivoire. With great insight and implementation feasible recommendations will allow a decolonized Côte d’Ivoire to once again thrive.
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