Finally connected with Narcisse in Abidjan after several days of no cell phone reception. At our last conversation, Narcisse was describing the scene first-hand from a family member’s home in Yopougon. Since the 90s, this neighborhood has been the epicenter of Abidjan’s nightclub scene, with maquis and discos lining the main drag, Rue Princesse, always packed until dawn. During the past several weeks however, Yopougon had become the epicenter of militia clash in the post-Gbagbo urban landscape. Two rivals, Ble Goude and Ibrahim Coulibaly, pitted their armed factions against one another in running street battles, ending in Coulibaly’s death last week. The populace had been forced indoors, everyone laying low for days on end.
Things have recently calmed enough for Narcisse to return to his home-base by the beach, near the airport. In addition to it being much safer, cell phone reception is much better there, and we were able to connect on the first try tonight (3am for Narcisse, pardon guerrier!). He is safe, that’s the main thing.
But we’re also back on track, thanks largely to Western Union’s re-emergence on the scene this weekend. Specifically, we’re working on re-activating Narcisse’ dormant email account so he can receive and send email from an internet kiosk. We’re also considering the safest way to get packages across the ocean and through customs without loss or damage. Last but not least, Narcisse is trying to get word to Laurent, who is assumed to be still living in a small village near Duekoue waiting out the current crisis in that region.
We’re scheduled for another call on Tuesday. Updates to follow.