An Africa within Africa - ABDÜLKADIR SELVI

An Africa within Africa

We are in Ghana, on the second leg of our visit to Africa with the President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Ghana is a nation we are familiar with.

Ghanaian football players chase the ball in our leagues, particularly for Fenerbahçe Football Club.

We arrived in Ghana after a 45-minute flight from Ivory Coast.

It was evening and as we disembarked from the plane, the weather was so hot and humid that our glasses fogged up.

But was it the same when we visited with our 11th president, Abdullah Gül, five years ago? It was raining cats and dogs. The presidential plane had made a risky landing in Ghana amid lightning and heavy rainfall. Later the pilots said, “We could only land manually.”

We got soaking wet walking from the plane to the airport, since there were not enough umbrellas. Ghana is one of the places where the parallel structure – the Gülen Movement – is strongest in Africa. They lost quite a lot of power in Turkey, but maintained it in Ghana. I think that some of the meetings President Erdoğan held were on the parallel structure.

We then went from Ghana to Gabon. Gabon charmed us all with its natural beauty. President Gül's photograph with the award-winning fisherman was taken on the coasts of Gabon.

This time, we landed in a calm weather. On our way from the airport to the hotel, I saw roads leading to the buildings.

Ghana has developed. We are in Sub-Saharan Africa with President Erdoğan. It would not be correct to say that a single Africa exists in Africa. Even a single city has two Africas. One is the Africa that consists of the city center, where the foreigners live and the public buildings are located, and the other is the Africa with the one-room brick houses and dusty roads.

We had the chance to see a little of the second Africa in Ivory Coast. We saw that there is another Africa within Africa…

Turkey is loved in Ivory Coast, both in the streets and by the administration. Some of those who learned that we are Turks called out “Erdoğan” while others preferred to call out “Drogba.”

I do not think they know that “Drogba is the solution” was written on the walls during the Gezi Park events, because we did not see his name on any of their walls – perhaps they had it written it on their hearts.

The president is positive about cooperation with Turkey. This is why both President Erdoğan and the ministers were busy with successive meetings.

Economy Minister Mustafa Elitaş, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz and Environment and Urbanization Minister Fatma Güldemet Sarı all had meetings one after the other.

Africa is developing. Turkey is trying to get its share of this development. We spoke with the Environment and Urbanization Minister Sarı. She said that they were interested in social housing projects and the title-deed cadaster system. The Ivory Coast government dedicated the years 2017-2018 to social housing projects. The title-deed cadaster is a serious problem. The state allocating a place alone is not enough; the title-deed cadaster process requires the approval of the tribal chief.

The Ivory Coast wants the cadaster system so it can issue title-deeds so its lands can gain value in the economy. After some official meetings, we set off to see the other side of the country.

As we started to get further away from Abidjan, the country's commercial capital, we saw the real face of the country. There is a big French air base in Ivory Coast. It was a former French colony.

First the French exploited it openly, and now they keep all the profitable sectors there from energy to communication in their hands. We pass by an auto industry site. Do not think even for a moment that they are like the organized industrial sites we have.

The masters and apprentices run around in a vast area amid vehicle parts and vehicles torn into pieces in rust and grease.

We went to a market which was proud of being the biggest in Africa and selling everything, yes everything that could come to mind.

It's called Adjame, and is open 7 days of the week. It has female vendors. It is too big to browse even by car. Colorful clothing, jewelry, fruits, fried fish, potatoes, onions, everything is sold in the same place.

Of course in the middle of the market, there are mountains of garbage. They go shopping without taking care of it. There is almost a flood of people flowing throughout the road. You pass through the sales venues made of single-room areas with the tops covered using plastic umbrellas around the expansive roads. You see an active market, but one that is covered in dust and dirt. There is a serious traffic problem. After struggling to pass through the market, we set off toward the Ivory Coast seen in the advertisement catalogues of tourism companies.

A region called Grand Bassam is at the same time the capital city of Ivory Coast. On the right side of the road lies the Ivory Coast.

This beautiful coast under the palm trees features a combination of sands and ocean water – clean enough to be worthy of the name.

It was February 28, but the temperature was 30 degrees Celsius. That's why those who went into the sea to cool down were happy. But the coasts also had two faces to them. The right side was sea and sand whereas the left side was misery.

Holiday villages for foreigners are being built along the side of the road. Just a little further down the poor neighborhoods of the Ivory Coast begin.

Single-room houses, just next to those places selling souvenirs. Repair shops... The country of poor but happy people, but a place with a very high development potential. Ivory Coast has recently done away with coups, rebellions and long years of exploitation. After achieving political stability, it began to develop rapidly. You would not be able to recognize it if you were to come five years later.

Off the record, Ivory Coast is governed using the French system. They call it the French style parliamentarian system. More exactly, it means a president who is a member of a party. The people elect the president. The president is both the head of the government and the party. But since it was not enough support to form a government, he made a coalition with the opposition.

Ghana, formerly known as Gold Coast, has been governed under the presidential system. As you are reading these lines, we are in Nigeria, a federal republic consisting of 36 states. It is run under an American-style presidential system. Guinea, which is the last destination of our Africa tour, is also governed by the presidential system.

Do not connect these discussions to the presidential system debate in our country. We will discuss the subjects concerning us with President Erdoğan at one of the stops in our tour.


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