Abidjan : The Un-Instagrammable_Aissa's Part 1

February 2003. Côte d'Ivoire's political instability was getting out of hand and the population was deeply worried for its safety . "Pack your bags, you will finish the school year in Lome and live with your aunt" said my mother. This is how I left my home country and embarked on a nomadic journey.

After Lomé, came Douala, Joburg and Montreal. Throughout the years, Côte d'Ivoire stayed very close to my heart. All the way from the other side of the world, I was constantly aware of the latest songs, dance moves, celebrity gossip, everything! I was always on the search for a reason to head back home: from internships to holidays and even medical appointments, I managed to return to Abidjan at least once a year. Yet, it was never enough. Despite my regular trips, I could not help but feel like I was missing out on something by not living there.

That's why in 2018, when I heard that the company I worked for wanted to launch their operations in Abidjan, I was over the moon. This was the opportunity of my dreams and I was determined to find a way to be part of that project, whatever it took. I could already feel the warm Ivorian breeze on my skin and the delicious smell of Alloco* in the air. But I had one tiny detail to figure out : my company was certainly expanding in West Africa but I was an employee of the Canadian branch, working on Canadian projects. How would it even be possible for me to be part of that project?

As a person who consumes an incredible amount of motivational content** (like all my fellow basic millennials), I decided to make my virtual life coaches proud: I would be the master of my own destiny and shoot my shot. After all, I had nothing to lose. So after a good amount of investigation, a few cold emails, some video calls, a glimmer of hope, followed by the loss of all hopes and some prayers, things started looking up. A year later, I finally received the approval to temporarily move to Abidjan for 4 months, to work on the launch of my company's operations. At last, I would get the chance to live at home and experience it from a different lens.

"How do you feel? " is the question everyone was asking me as my departure was nearing.The most honest and complete version of my answer was: "I feel a healthy mix of excitement and fear. Extremely excited to spend more quality time with my loved ones, to work on an exciting project and to miss the freezing Canadian winter. But worried about my ability to succeed in this ambiguous professional adventure, and by the strong possibility that this return home, which is so deeply anchored in my life plans, might not live up to my expectations."

That's the mindset in which I arrived in Abidjan in September 2019.

As I write this in February 2020 from the cold and beloved Montreal, I have taken the time to reflect on this journey. The next 2 articles are the result of that reflection and aim to share my personal story on the topics of working and living in Abidjan.

As you read the upcoming articles, it is crucial to know that I do not, in any way, aim to depict a general narrative on the professional and social environment of Abidjan or Africa on a broader scale. I will walk you through the return to the motherland, through my lense.

*Alloco: Fried plantains

** Hit me up for a book, podcast, song or even instagram accounts to follow if you are looking for motivation!

Vous pouvez trouver la traduction en français de cet article ici

You can find Aissata's Instagram here


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