La Côte d’Ivoire’s Day of Peace: A Unifying Celebration Amidst Historical Turmoil

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By Sarah Brou

If I were home today, I will join other residents from Abidjan, no matter their tribe, religion, or gender, and we shall all celebrate together. First, we shall receive blessings from God. Some will dress according to our national orange-white-and-green flag, while others will don white, white symbolizing peace for us. We shall organize football matches with other communities and dance and drink and eat and party as one.

For today is la Côte d’Ivoire’s Day of Peace.

After many years of war, the country declared November 15 a Day of Peace to cool down all tensions to create the environment for a prosperous future. The National Peace Day was established by Decree No. 96-205 of March 7, 1996 by the ex–President Henri Konan Bedier in memory of the country’s founding father Felix Houphouët-Boigny.

Today was the 27th edition of the Day of Peace. The day was celebrated at Odiénné, a town in the north-western part of the country in the Denguélé District and Kabadougou Region. It is also a day of long speeches about political and national unity. Christians and Muslims prayed together to ask for the favor of the glory of God. The theme for the year is “Youth years” asking all to “leave behind the past to build with the youth a durable Peace“.

Ivory Coast gained independence from France in 1960, and until the 1980s, the country’s economic and political life was relatively stable. But then things took a turn for the worse and decades of unrest followed.

In 1999, Gen. Gueï Robert seized power in a military coup which led to a popular revolt during the 2000 election cycle. The revolt blew into an all-out war in 2002, a civil war that raged until 2007.

After a brief period of peace, another election was held in 2010, but protests against the election results escalated into another war.

There remains constant tension and instability in the country, but the November 15 “Peace Day” is a bid to remind citizens to come together in a show of national unity and patriotism.

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