Stilt dancers are an amazing thing to see. They are young Dan men who train for many years in secrecy. Once they have become stilt dancers they can communicate with spirits which direct how the stilt dancers dance.
The Senufo are a traditional agricultural people of the northern savanna, renowned around the world for their woodcarving. Senufo masks, used in ritual forms of ancestor worship, are particularly prized by collectors. The Senufo are also widely celebrated for their music, which makes use of marimbas and tuned iron gongs in addition to an array of other instruments.
The art of Côte d'Ivoire is among the best in West Africa and is distinct to each ethnic group. Three groups stand out - the Baoulé, the Dan (or Yacouba) and the Senoufo - all known for their wooden carvings. The most common Dan mask is that of a human face, slightly abstract but with realistic features. Another common Dan carving is that of a large spoon for serving rice; such spoons typically have two legs of human form and rest standing up on their legs. Traditionally used in commemorative ceremonies, Baoulé facial masks are very realistic and intended to portray individuals who can be recognised by their facial marks or hairdos. Senoufo masks are highly stylised: the most famous is the 'fire spitter' helmet mask, which is a combination of antelope, wart hog and hyena.
Though the country has two of the largest Catholic cathedrals in the world, only 12% of the people are Christian and most of those are Protestant. About a quarter of the population is Muslim, most of whom live in the north. The majority practise traditional religions involving ancestral worship. They believe that the dead are transformed into spirits and remain in constant contact with the living; through various rituals, the living seek their blessings and protection. Magic is also common, and good magic keeps evil spirits away. Medicine men or juju priests dispense charms, tell fortunes and give advice on how to avoid danger. They also bless grisgris, necklaces of charms that ward off specific evils. The Senoufo people in particular have held very strongly to their traditional beliefs. Children are instructed over many years in the history and social mores of the Senoufo and are then secretly initiated into it.
World famous reggae artist Alpha Blondy is Côte d'Ivoire's best known singer, though his music isn't necessarily representative. The country's traditional music style is characterised by a series of melodies and rhythms occurring simultaneously, without one dominating the others. Historically, this music has been the prerogative of just one social group, the griot (village entertainers), who use only instruments they can make with local materials, such as gourds, animal skins and horns. Côte d'Ivoire's most famous and prolific writer is Bernard Dadié, whose work has been widely translated. One of his first novels, Climbié (1971), is an autobiographical account of a childhood journey to France. Other well-known national novelists include Aké Loba and Ahmadou Kourouma.
In villages and African-style homes in the cities, African food is eaten with the hands. Attiéké is a popular Côte d'Ivoirian side dish. A lot like couscous, it's made of grated cassava. You'll find attiéké at a maquis - typically an inexpensive, open air restaurant with chairs and tables in the sand. Côte d'Ivoire's claim to culinary fame, maquis normally feature braised chicken and fish smothered in onions and tomatoes, served with attiéké, or kedjenou, a chicken dish made with vegetables and a mild sauce. One of the tastiest street-vended foods is aloco, which is ripe banana in palm oil, spiced with steamed onions and chilli and eaten alone or with grilled fish. Bangui is a local palm wine.
French and the African trade languages are widely spoken. English is not heard very often; however, BEWARE of what you say. The African may not speak English, but he/she certainly understands it. It is not uncommon for arrests to occur when anything viewed as anti-Ivorian is spokenf - even in English.
This picture is of my mother and I shopping along the marche in Yamoussoukro
The people are very friendly, though if you are outside the main cities the people can be very curious. Don't be too surprised if children scream with fear when they see you. There is a lot of poverty in the Cote d'Ivoire and I visited a shanty town (a friend's family were living there). This was a mind-opening experience because though these people had nothing they still welcomed me into their shack. The same welcoming feeling was portrayed eveywhere I went.
Despite having two huge cathedrals the main religion besides traditional religions is Islam. So practice the standard muslim courtesies like coverup your shoulders and knees for the ladies and so on.
Just finished first of 2 weeks here, pleasantly surprised by quality of hotel generally. Room is...more
"Hôtel Ivoire" in the upper class Cocody residential district west of Le Plateau is the best hotel...more
Road D `Assinie Maffia, Assinie, Abidjan, KM3, Cote d'Ivoire
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Business