On the 1st of August 1960, Côte d’Ivoire awoke to find itself imprisoned by its borders. The European concept of the Nation State (Noose-like State) had ensnared it, forcing the population into a simulacrum of decolonisation hidden behind the attractive mask of independence. One country, one party (the one-party system was to stay in place for 30 years), one president…
And that is how the Ivoirian miracle, the African Eldorado was conceived, with its overstimulating coffee and sickening mountains of cocoa, cotton and rubber to ease the inevitable fall…the facade began to crumble and the economy was very quickly drowned by demographics. The « hospitable country » sung of in the national anthem became that of the « Ivoirian identity ». Foreigners, who were once so useful, even without papers, suddenly became foreign, undesirable, and suspect. But where did this foreignness originate? Where do the borders begin? Who is, or is not, Ivoirian? Who is more Ivoirian? Who is less Ivoirian? The matter is in the hands of the politicians and – most of all – the police. The cost of racketeering rises in correlation with the extent to which a name sounds « northern ».
That is when people began to reason in terms of « culture » or rather, « cultures » in the plural. And, gradually, in his own way Alpha Blondy, the mixed race boy from Baoulé and Dioula, began to sing about reinstating order: « You’re playing with fire! » – too late. Côte d’Ivoire is in flames. The firemen who rushed to the scene in the interests of France and neighbouring countries only fed the flames – because the fire can never be quenched with weapons or well-meaning words. Understanding, awareness and reason are all tragically lacking in those who are endlessly fighting for the power and the booty in Côte d’Ivoire.
– Understanding History first: all Ivoirians are foreigners. The Malinké, disdainfully re-christened « Dioula » (merchants) have lived here since the 13th Century, followed by the Senoufo, the Akan and Krou (today fighting for power by right of pre-existence in the land of the Ivoirian identity) made no notable impact on Côte d’Ivoire prior to the 18th Century. But what does that matter?
– Awareness: of how absurd these quarrels over birthright are: nowhere else does historical precedence justify a right to power, otherwise the president of the United States would be a Sioux!
– Reason: to assess the current situation, to assess this vertiginous fall by which the « high on high » dispute responsibility for a collective suicide.
In the face of this outrageous situation, the reality of life in this country should be remembered. Côte d’Ivoire’s human capital is not recognised beyond its economic potential, which still excites a lust of the basest kind. An inventory of the country’s phenomenal cultural heritage in any field should have been established. Ivoirian sculpture is alive and kicking and was the initial model for a modern art now widely considered to be universal. Dance and music continue to move the entire country – a country that is has apparently been torn apart, irreparably. By letting the comedians, writers and poets that have made Côte d’Ivoire a leading proponent of French language and culture speak, by listening to Abidjan’s kids with their juicy parables and noushi and zouglou that are spicing up the French language. Whether you are a « so-so » Ivoirian; more less foreign; an inhabitant whose family has been homeless for generations; a Sahalian exhausted by a journey through the ever-advancing desert; culturally blended inside and out; a rootless planter; a taxi man in search of clients; an artist robbed by pirates; or a tormented poet in exile… this issue of Africultures is dedicated to you, the shipwrecked passengers of this once gleaming ship. It is a toast to your cultural blending, to your hazy dreams wrapped in a multi-coloured swathe of music. This is a toast to a wonderful country that will eventually be yours.
///Article N° : 5707