Wolf Böwig, Promised Land, from PRIVATE 37 – an Ecological Question
2006 Ivory Coast
«Man, ‘plaque tournante’ in the Great West of Ivory Coast, is the center of the world. At least, the center of a particular world: here is the point of interception of soldiers, rebels, mercenaries, refugees, migrants, infectious diseases, products, traffics. From Man we can ‘see’ as far as the wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia and have a look on some of the key events and characters in the region in the last two decades. Both Charles Taylor, former Liberian President, and his infamous ‘general’ Sam Bockarie, aka ‘Mosquito’ (a Leonese hairdresser from Abidjan turned into a killing machine), had their logistical bases in Man.
After the split of the Ivory Coast following the failed coup d’État in September 19th 2002, Man confirmed its strategic position — and paid for that, with battles involving Liberian, Angolan and South African fighters, brought together by a constellation of rebel movements and militia groups. Broken, ravaged, afflicted by poverty and HIV, Man keeps going as a center for timber logging. The conflict between Forces Nouvelles and the President Laurent Gbagbo opened the way to sacred and untouched forests. Trees that grew for more than a century are being cut down, falling and dying in a matter of minutes. Just like any other war casualty in this troubled region of West Africa.» (Pedro Rosa Mendes)