Tag Archives: Ivory Coast

Other people’s lives – encountering pirates and witches in West Africa

My friend Lynn is currently in West Africa.

A couple of days ago, I posted a blog based on something she encountered in Côte d’Ivoire – aka the Ivory Coast.

In fact, she had sent me a previous message last week, but I did not want to post it while she was in a particular area. The message she sent from a ship read:


“…renowned for their ill-treatment and torture of victims”

They are seriously worried about pirates. I kid you not. Security burst into our room last night as they thought we had left a window open.

Open deck areas are all closed off and all curtains drawn so no lights are showing. 

The Gulf of Guinea is where the pirates operate.

They took nearly a hundred hostages last year that are known of (many ransoms being paid secretly) and are renowned for their ill-treatment and torture of victims. They largely target oil tankers by capturing workers sailing with supplies for the tankers.

The instructions if there is an attack are mainly to go into a corridor and lie on the floor as the ship will perform “a zig-zag navigation… if the pirates succeed to board the vessel, do not panic and do as they say.” 

In fact, the instructions for Military Forces boarding are panic-inducing: “Stay low to the floor and cover heads with both hands. On no account should anybody make movements which could be misinterpreted as being aggressive.”


Lynn and her husband Frank are currently in Côte d’Ivoire – the Ivory Coast… She writes:


How to spot Ivory Coast witch

I may regard political correctness as an evil perpetrated by my generation but… I was just making conversation with a well-spoken, fashionably-dressed young guide after seeing witch costumes and getting a history lesson:

“So how do you deal with witches now?” I asked.

His immediate reply in a matter-of-fact tone was: “We kill them.”

“What happens,” I asked, “if you hand them over to the authorities instead?”

“They kill them.”

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Other people’s lives – in the Ivory Coast

I was in Leytonstone, East London, yesterday.

It is not one of the most glamorous parts of London.

My friend Lynn and her husband Frank were in Côte d’Ivoire – the Ivory Coast as was.

A tad more glamorous.

Both Lynn and the Ivory Coast.

I have just received this from her:


“My highlight was our police escort…”

As a fan of film car chases you would have enjoyed yesterday, as my highlight was our police escort. 

What does it tell you about a country when the traffic ploughs off the motorway instantly as this cop gesticulates madly and has us following him the wrong way down the motorway?

Only one vehicle challenged him – a white van man flashed his lights as the mad  biker drove at him and zigzagged towards him to prove he wasn’t kidding. The van gave way.  

“We approached a traffic jam at a major crossroads in Abidjan…”

We approached a traffic jam at a major crossroads in Abidjan and he careered across the central reservation into the oncoming traffic and disappeared.

It was only when our three lanes of traffic magically started speeding through the crossroads that we found he had stopped three lanes of traffic in each of the other roads so that we could get through.

When he got back to us he stood up on the footrests and punched the air  as we cheered (whilst admittedly worrying about the chaos left behind us). 

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