Africa... the safari continent with rain forests, savannahs, and deserts, breath-taking sunsets, AIDS epidemics, blazing heat, tropical fruit, exotic plants and animals, colorful markets, endless coup d'etats, witch doctors, starving children, hundreds of ethnic groups, and bugs by the millions.
Africa is an enormous continent with huge variations. Some people still live in mud huts and work as subsistence farmers, while others live in exquisite mansions with servants in abundance. Most Africans live somewhere on the poorer side of those extremes.
Christianity is growing faster in Africa than in North America. Some portions of eastern and southern Africa are predominately Christian, whereas most of north Africa is Muslim. In equatorial Africa, the war is on to see which religion will dominate in the next 50 years. Cote d'Ivoire has a mix of Islam, animism, and Christianity.
The people of Cote d'Ivoire are generally warm and welcoming. They live in the country and towns, enjoy holidays and visiting friends, and are proud when their children do well in school. They hope their politicians will treat them right, and they have dreams for their lives. Above all, each one of them needs to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Even the Africans have to adapt their habits when they move to new areas with new people groups. They have problems with ethnocentrism and being treated as outsiders when they are in the minority. It is tempting for them, too, to think that the way they do things is always right.
Below are some small cultural issues that one must learn in Cote d'Ivoire:
- Should you visit people or are they supposed to come visit you first?
- Do you shake hands once or twice when you seat a visitor at your home?
- Why did someone refuse to take something you offered with your left hand?
- How do you clean fruits, vegetables, and meat that were covered with flies in the open market?
- What kind of clothing will be acceptable to the local population?
- How can you get rid of trash since there are no dumps or trash pick ups?
- How do you tell someone “no”, without hurting their feelings?
- Why did someone leave a broken pot in the middle of the dirt road?
Things the Andersons APPRECIATE about their home in Cote d'Ivoire:
- Friendly people who generally like Americans
- Fresh mango and pineapple
- The sports craze, soccer, and the national team, the Elephants
- Strong family bonds among the Africans
- Pounded yams and peanut butter sauce
- People who take time to talk to one another
- Shoes and clothes for ONE season
- Respect for the elderly
- Home made pizza and powdered milk
- People truly grateful when you help
- Faithful Christians, despite intense persecution and suffering
- See Dad more than in the States
- Unforgettable friends
Things DIFFICULT about living in Cote d'Ivoire :
Every group of people has some good qualities in their culture. Some things are better in Africa; some things are better in America. If a person wants to be content living in a new culture, he or she must learn to find the positive aspects of that life, and to meditate on those things.
- Unreliable electricity and water
- Seven hours from a decent hospital
- Political instability/mission evacuations
- Terrible roads and no bathrooms as you drive
- Never winter or fall
- People who expect bribes to do their work
- No Taco Bell or libraries
- Government officials who refuse to leave office
- Families who disown their children when they become Christians
- Crisco at $12.00 a can
- Typhoid and cholera epidemics