About the Author

Robbie is dividing his time between Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Burkina Faso, researching LGBTI activism and homophobia in West and Central Africa. He got his start covering the Khmer Rouge tribunal for The Phnom Penh Post in Cambodia before transitioning into a career as a freelancer that has taken him to Kenya, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal. He has reported for outlets including The Associated Press, Al Jazeera America, France 24, Radio France Internationale, CNN, Voice of America, World Policy Journal, TheAtlantic.com, Guernica, The Caravan and Asia Literary Review. He has also worked as a media trainer in Liberia for the Canadian nonprofit Journalists for Human Rights. Robbie holds a bachelor's degree in Urban Studies and Economics from Brown University (2007) and a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, which awarded him a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship in 2008.  

Adama du Jardin

YAMOUSSOUKRO, Côte d’Ivoire — In 1984, in an essay for The New Yorker, the writer V.S. Naipaul described Yamoussoukro, a town in central Côte d’Ivoire, as a place that “awaited full use.”[i] He meant this in the most fundamental way. The previous year, President Félix Houphouët-Boigny had established the town, his birthplace, as the country’s

How Burkina Faso’s Rapper-activists Shaped a Year of Upheaval

Nov. 1, 2015 OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — During their brief, failed coup last September, soldiers from Burkina Faso’s elite presidential guard moved swiftly through the capital, Ouagadougou, to assert control and stifle dissent. Driving in convoys, they toured main intersections and other potential rallying points, training automatic weapons on

Impressions Aboard the Train from Abidjan to Ouagadougou

October 1, 2015 Three hours before the train to Ouagadougou was scheduled to leave, the station in Treichville, in southern Abidjan, the economic capital of Côte d’Ivoire, hummed with more activity than it had seen in days. Across from the crowd control barriers, ticket-holders sipped Nescafé on a concrete ledge, shielding their faces from the bright

Nothing to Lose: Côte d’Ivoire’s Troubled Campus Politics

As campus events go, it is difficult to imagine anything less controversial than the “Peace Fair” held at Côte d’Ivoire’s largest university one Friday morning last July. Part of a U.S. State Department-backed program intended to temper a politically volatile campus climate, the fair featured Ivoirian artists and singers, a blood-donation stand

Burkina Faso’s Gay Rights Debate: What Role for Foreign Voices?

An aide would later say that the whole exchange happened “very quickly.” On the morning of Feb. 23, 2015, Tulinabo S. Mushingi, the American ambassador to Burkina Faso, met with Chérif Sy, who is heading the country’s interim parliament in the run-up to elections following the toppling of President Blaise Compaoré last year. According to news

The Revolutionary Tour Guides of Burkina Faso

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso – On Nov. 1, 2014, the day after Blaise Compaoré resigned as Burkina Faso’s president and fled the capital in a convoy, abruptly ending his nearly three-decade hold on power, a 40-year-old man named Prosper looked on as an opposition lawmaker exulted over the autocrat’s hasty departure while giving a radio interview

A West African protest novel

ABIDJAN – Thiossane and Moctar meet in classic West African fashion. Trying to send a text message one day to an old friend from school, Thiossane, an educated but unemployed resident of Dakar, the capital of Senegal, enters the number incorrectly and instead reaches Moctar, an uneducated grave-digger who has recently lost his job. Moctar responds