AFRICA: The Sages of Abidjan

Many of the 5,000,000 citizens of the Ivory Coast are devout animists who revere the crocodile as a sacred beast. So President Félix Houphouet-Boigny, himself a Roman Catholic, does little to quash the widespread belief that he keeps the palace pond well stocked with the respected reptiles and consults them regularly.

Western businessmen may laugh, but such crocodilian cunning has allowed Houphouet to weld 60 backward tribes into one of Black Africa's most prosperous countries—and its most striking anomaly. Tanzania, Guinea and other young nations are nationalizing foreign holdings, restricting foreign investment...

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