Wednesday, 6 April 2011


The front page of the newspaper this morning looked like this:

Just after one glance I felt somehow connected with the man on the photo. What caused this feeling?

I know near to nothing about Côte d'Ivoire. Military uniforms aren’t my weak spot. Neither are guns. Nothing in my life resembles the life of this man. No. That’s not true. There is one thing.

As every decent Dutch I have a bicycle. I use it mainly for transportation purposes (faster, cheaper, more convenient) and sometimes for recreation. My bicycle is old, but everything works fine. It’s old enough to be left in the bicycle parking lot at the station, but good enough to ride 50km and relax on a sunny day. The only non-working part is the back fender. It’s not attached to the frame with a screw anymore because of the rust. Which is not a problem because that’s what tie-wraps are for – to keep bicycle parts together. I use two black tie-wraps to keep the fender in place.

As you may have heard, last Saturday was exceptionally warm for this time of the year in the Netherlands. A friend of mine and I went for a bike ride. We’d planned 50km and were going strong, but exactly halfway both of the tie-wraps were broken and the fender hang loose. There’s no way to ride another 25km with a loose fender. This would be the end of me and my bicycle.

My friend and I went to a café to have drink and ask for help. With some rope I could make it home, back to new tie-wraps. They didn’t have any rope. Instead the not very friendly girl gave us a roll of… tape. We used the tape to fix the fender and I made it home safe and sound. And I didn’t bother to replace the tape with tie-wraps.  I just ride around on a bike that holds together with sticky tape.

And that’s exactly what Alassane Ouattara and I have in common: we both use tape to keep our gear from falling apart.


  1. The moral of this story I also learnt in Switzerland skiing - never go anywhere without a few tie-wraps in your pocket!

  2. @Martin, I would say: (duck)tape.. J


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