Condomerie, the Amsterdam-based condom shop, provided over 2,000 “little blue helmet” condoms for UN soldiers stationed in Côte d’Ivoire on February 1. The prophylactics are meant to stem a potential ballooning birthrate, which often follows national periods of political and economic strife (i.e., the post-WWII baby boom in the United States).
On Tuesday afternoon in Warmoesstraat, Amsterdam, kilos of condoms were transferred outside the Condomerie store to Ben Gneba, founder of the African nonprofit organization, Sape Moderne. Gneba will transport the rubbers back to Abidjan, where they will be sold to stationed UN soldiers. Sape Moderne intends to funnel all its profits to an annual soccer-tournament AIDS-prevention project in the Youpougon district.
Current conflicts between incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and challenger Alassane Ouattara, as well as mounting pressure from the international community, have created a stressful political climate in Côte d’Ivoire that many believe may lead to civil war. Increased levels of sexual promiscuity can bloom in areas torn by political strife; a stay-at-home population often finds ways to amuse themselves in the bedroom to relieve stress and alleviate boredom.
One unnamed on-hand source, while skeptical about the “baby boom prevention” aspect of Condomerie’s efforts, still praised the company’s gesture. “Baby booms are never about more babies being born when stressful political climes are on the rise,” he said. “Baby booms happen when soliders return from war, when the stressful periods are finally over and couples feel more optimistic and flush with the economic resources to start more families. And soldiers returning from war miss their girlfriends and wives. What’s happening in Côte d’Ivoire has nothing to do with that.”
All 2,000 of the blue condom wrappers read “Blue Helmets for Ivory Coast—Make Love Not War—I Love I.C.” in both French and English. Condomerie’s lighthearted campaign resurrects the “make love not war” slogan made famous by John Lennon protesting against the Vietnam War during the 1960s, suggesting sex as a peaceful solution to the decade-old conflicted dialogue in the region.