Cote D’Ivoire Delegation Visits Campus

Ambassador Plenipotentiary Daouda Diabate, Cote D’Ivoire’s (Ivory Coast) chief diplomat to the United States, visited Shepherd along with other embassy officials to provide an overview of his state and its position in Africa and the world.

Diabate spoke to a packed auditorium in the Byrd Center for Legislative Studies on March 26. While the speech was sponsored by the campus’ chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, all were welcome.

The ambassador was introduced by Siriki Diabate, a political science major, who is originally from Cote D’Ivoire. Joe Robbins, assistant professor of political science and the faculty advisor for Pi Sigma Alpha, acknowledged that the ambassador wouldn’t have visited had it not been for Siriki’s hard work and determination to arrange the visit.

Siriki introduced the ambassador as a career diplomat who was educated in Cote D’Ivoire as well as France. He formerly held positions in the Ministry of State and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is currently serving his second ambassadorship in the United States, having previously served before becoming ambassador to Brazil and then returning to the United States.

Ambassador Diabate explained his added title of “plenipotentiary,” meaning that he not only represents his state while in the United States, but he is also empowered to speak for his head of government and on behalf of all of Cote D’Ivoire. A loose translation is “ambassador with full power.”

Throughout his talk, the ambassador touched on a number of advantages his state has over other African states. First, he called Cote D’Ivoire a “country noticed for stability and economic progress” and pointed to a booming economy that has rebounded after some civil unrest in recent years.

Ambassador Diabate also considers Cote D’Ivoire to be a “melting pot,” not unlike other states with a similar title including the United States. He explained that 26 percent of their population is made up of immigrants who bring their own unique culture to the territory. While some work and then send money home to their families, thus explaining Cote D’Ivoire’s role as an economic powerhouse in the region, he said many move to the area and make it their permanent home.

Cote D’Ivoire is also unique in its vast infrastructure, including good roads and a modern banking system.

The ambassador did explain that the long stability his country has had has not been uninterrupted. In 1999, there was a military coup that drove the democratically-elected president from office and the country’s borders. It was not until 2010 that another regular election was held which resulted in a new, since-permanent government.

While Cote D’Ivoire has been plagued with a bit of recent strife, Ambassador Diabate clarified that the country has rebuilt its economy and is back on a strong track.

After the Ambassador’s remarks, Robbins and Suzanne Shipley, president of Shepherd University, presented the delegation with gifts and their thanks for visiting the campus.

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