Posted on November 10, 2004

Eyewitness: Ivory Coast Terror

BBC News, Nov. 9

As we take a turn on the road to the city where we are now, I see on my right side a guy wearing a black tee-shirt who just throws a rock at my car . . .

He snaps his finger to another guy on the other side of the car who also throws a rock, this time at my windshield.

But the first rock, I have to say, nearly killed my wife because it came through the passenger side . . .

So at that moment I just pressed the gas on and drove all the way out of Abidjan.

‘Feeling of disaster’

There was no way for them to know that I was French because there are, as you know, French people of all colours but it is obviously a white question.

And what shocked me the most, if you will, is the two guys were hurling the rocks at the car, they were maybe, four metres — five metres from the car.

So they absolutely saw there was a woman and two small children in the car. But that didn’t stop them at all.

[My black Ivorian friends] call us and basically their take is a feeling of disaster.

They call us to take news and to get information, see how we are doing, give us advice on what to do and what not to do. So obviously a caring community — a normal community.

Schools burnt

If my citizenship is based on my colour then I cannot but welcome the troops that are here to protect me and my family.

So to me it is a very simple case: when my wife was hit by the rock, I stopped at a police station about 200 metres from where that incident happened and I was basically insulted back into my car by the military and the police who were there.

So I drove on and inside my heart I knew what side I was on.

[This situation will] force us out of the country for a very simple reason: I am a family man.

They have burnt down the four schools that we could send our children to, so it is game over as far as we’re concerned.

It is not an easy decision because I was born in this country, my wife was born in this country, my two children were born in this country, my father is buried in this country and to be treated like that and to be denied any sort of citizenship just because of race is absolutely unacceptable.