I Still Go To School

on teaching, learning, travelling

It’s all a matter of perspective…

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When you think of “Africa”… what comes to your mind? Starving children, straw huts, overcrowded cities and slums? You are mostly right.

This post is in response to what I wrote about the market Adjamé. It is the reversal of Adjamé – The “Hypermarché Sococé”. The huge structure almost seems like it’s copied from a modern European or American shopping city: fancy restaurants, manicure, electronics and a big department store.

Upon entering the acclimatised department store, I felt like I was back in Vienna. It is full of products imported from Europe and America, with personnel at every corner, and packers after the cashiers. And they sell everything here… from shoes and clothes, to electronics, toiletries, meat and cheese, yoghurts, drinks, sweets, fruit and veggies, and everything the exquisite home cuisine could require, even the original olive imported from bella italia. Even the setup is similar to European shops: the most frequently needed products are at the opposite side of the entrance, so that you have to make your way through the entire store; little, expensive “kid-traps” at the cashier; cheap products at the bottom of the shelf, expensive ones at top and medium in the middle of the shelf. Feels like home 😉 Just one thing is different: the typical opening of the fruit at the entrance is replaced by the electronics.

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Sorry that the pictures are blurry, I felt a bit awkward taking pictures of a shop and forgot to adjust the settings.

This is what you see when you enter the store: electronics, and that they are starting to decorate the place for Christmas. WHITE CHRISTMAS! With Christmas trees and pictures of snow falling on presents.

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The toys section! Everything is imported, of course. And sorry, no black dolls available, only white and two stages of tanned.

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My good old friend from Ghana! Forget Magnum, Cornetto and whatever, FanIce (€0,40) is seriously the best! Its taste also most closely resembles the one of the old “Cheesy” ice-cream.

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Yoghurts and milk products are seriously sinfully overpriced. This blurry package of Danone Actimel costs CFA 11300 (€ 17,40)! Yoghurts are around CFA 800-1200 (€1,20 – €1,80) per piece (50-70g). Milk products are a privilege.

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My favourite place: the sweets 😀 You can find HARIBO from France. It’s daylight robbery though: CFA 1050 (€ 1,60) for a package of Haribo of 100g.

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Spending time in the chocolate section is the most infuriating task…. if you are aware that Cote d’Ivoire is the World’s #1 cocoa exporter! And all you can see is…

  • Milka is CFA 1650 (€2,50) per 100g bar
  • Lindt is CFA 3500 (€5,40) per 100g bar
  • Kinder bars – 5 pieces CFA 1200 (€1,85)
  • Small box of Ferrero Rocher is CFA 4500 (€6,92)

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So cocoa is harvested by the poorest of the country and shipped to Europe. It returns as expensive chocolate, only afforded by the rich of the very same country. Only recently Cote d’Ivoire started to produce their own chocolate: “Amigo”. One bar for CFA 600, and pretty awful in taste, worse than American or Asian chocolate (no offense)

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After getting some FanIce and a drink, I met Maxim and his half-sister. Maxim’s mother is Russian, his dad Ivorian, but he has always lived in Cote d’Ivoire. He works as a technician for RTI, the country’s main television channel. Everyone wants English lessons from me! In the background you can see a fountain, a dry cleaning place and that there are two levels of shops.

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Sococé is the biggest of its kind in Abidjan, and there is Cap Nord and Cap Sud. West and East are already in the planning, a sign of a growing bourgeois. In a way it’s comforting to see that, as most social and economic change stems from an active middle-class.

Are there any other products of which you would like to know the price? When you see these products, do they seem expensive to you in your own standards? How much are these products in your country? And now consider that this is supposed to be Cote d’Ivoire, a developing country, where 42,7% (2008) of the people live in absolute poverty (on less than $1,25 per day).

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6 thoughts on “It’s all a matter of perspective…

  1. I think a more interesting question is how much you would have to sacrifice on your current salary in order to buy a box of ferrero roche?

  2. Es ist schon traurig zu sehen, dass unsere Konsumgesellschaft noch immer in großem Maß auf Ausbeutung der sogenannten 3 Welt Länder geschied ! Könnten die Afrikaner selbst eine Kooperative gründen, wo von den Kakao-Plantagen über
    Schokolade Produktion bis zur Vermarktung alles im eigenen Land geschied ?
    Oder gibts da auch wieder zuviel Korruption ?
    Wie sehen das die jungen Afrikaner ?

    • hi Papa 🙂
      stell dir vor, die würden streiken, und wir hätten in europa oder amerika für ein paar wochen keine schokolade! auch kaffee und baumwolle kommen von hier. leider gibts genug leute hier, die bestechung gerne annehmen und lieber ihr land verraten, als ihren wohlstand zu opfern. es gibt schon unternehmer, aber sie werden oft blockiert und sabotiert. ausser der “amigo” schokolade kommt alles aus dem ausland. natürlich sind die jungen afrikaner nicht glücklich darüber, aber sie fühlen sich auch machtlos.

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