More specifically, it takes a village in Soubré, Côte d’Ivoire. I have just had the most incredible experience. While searching for a nice location to shoot some video recapping the journey thus far, we passed a small village with some people sitting on a bench. Immediately, we knew this was the place. So, we stopped to ask if we could film and an amazing chain of events began.
First, as is the custom, we had to meet the Chief. He was sitting down to have a drink of local brew at a table in the middle of an open space in the village. We introduced ourselves, which for me is the entire extent of my French. The rest of the conversation required the aid of my friend and colleague, Siriki Diakite.
We exchanged “the news”, which is the local custom, and then requested permission from the Chief to complete our task. As we are talking, seemingly everyone in the village began to gather around us. The Chief shared that he was honored to have people from so far away come and visit us and he offered us a drink. It was clear the village was excited to have visitors from so far away. I don’t exactly look like a local. I have seen only two white people in the last two days, one of which is my travel companion from UTZ, Herma Hulst. And yet they welcomed us as if we grew up in their village and were returning home from a long journey.
I think my favorite part was when the Chief shared that he was a hunter and asked if I would like to see his quarry. As a fellow hunter, of course I said yes. He had just killed an eight foot boa constrictor that he would be eating.
Another amazing moment was when I shared some chocolate with the Chief and his village. These people have been farming cocoa all their lives, but they rarely, if ever, get chocolate. The smiles on their faces will stay in my heart forever. Even though this village has no running water and no electricity, they have a spirit that is contagious.
What would you do if a group of people – that you had never seen, that looked nothing like you and didn’t speak your language – pulled up in your yard and asked if they could start shooting film and video? It was such an incredible experience, I miss it already. I want to go back.