Out for a stroll on the Corniche, sharing a festive mood with the many locals who come out en famille, dressed up in their finest, some serious, others laughing, but all in high spirits, celebrating Christmas Day.
Kids proudly carry their present, in most cases still wrapped in its original packaging. A truck, a doll, a football, a bicycle… kids clutch their new toy, while walking alongside their parents. Balloons for sale. A few Santas hanging around. And horses, the poor horses of the Corniche. Thin as can be, bones sticking out everywhere. Matted fur, lifeless eyes. Tied to lamp posts. Kids being lifted to sit on their backs, a photo opportunity. Most of the kids look terrified, some cry.
Plenty of photographers around, to capture family moments. Small portable generators buzz away every few hundred metres, feeding rows of printers lined up along the pavement. Photos are printed there and then, 1000 CFA a photo (about 1.50 euros).
I’ve never seen so many people on the Corniche before, it’s closed for traffic and serious traffic jams have formed along the surrounding streets where taxis are dropping off people, trying to get as close to the Corniche as possible. It’s clearly the place to be on Christmas Day!
More and more people arrive. I slowly walk all the way from Mami Wata up to Case de Gaulle. When I decide it’s time to head back down, the bridge is so packed, I can hardly make my way through the sea of people.
I get stopped by parents who want to take a photo of me with their children. What? I feel awkward, but pose with the kids, then more people ask me, we pose, more, more… it’s getting out of hand, I decline more photo requests, people get angry, I give in… a few more, then I really have to go. I weave through the crowds as fast as I can. I’m running late. People calling behind me. I ignore it. I feel bad. But don’t know how best to handle the situation, it just feels weird. Heading home, to calm and quiet.