Friday, April 24, 2015

Côte d’Ivoire

Ivory Coast is a francophone country in West Africa. Yamoussoukro is the official political capital and administrative capital city of Côte d'Ivoire, while the economic capital of the country is Abidjan.

Ivory Coast became a protectorate of France in 1843–44 and was later formed into a French colony in 1893 amid the European scramble for Africa.
Ivory Coast achieved independence in 1960, led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who ruled the country until 1993. It maintained close political and economic association with its West African neighbors, while at the same time maintaining close ties to the West, especially France. Since the end of Houphouët-Boigny's rule in 1993, Ivory Coast has experienced one coup d'état, in 1999, and two religiously-grounded civil wars: the first taking place between 2002 and 2007, and the second during 2010-2011
The First Ivorian Civil War began in 2002. Although most of the fighting ended by late 2004, the country remained split in two, with a rebel-held Muslim north and a government-held Christian south. Hostility increased and raids on foreign troops and civilians rose. As of 2006, the region was tense, and many said the UN and the French military failed to calm the civil war.
The Côte d'Ivoire national football team was credited with helping to secure a temporary truce when it qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup and brought warring parties together.
The Ivorian elections took place in October 2010 after being delayed 6 times. Fighting resumed on 24 February 2011 over the impasse on the election results, with the New Force rebels capturing Zouan-Hounien, and clashes in Abobo, Yamoussoukro and around Anyama.

Key Figures
Samori Ture resisted French penetration and settlement. In 1880s and 1890s he was establishing the Wassoulou Empire, which extended over large parts of present-day Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast. His large, well-equipped army could manufacture and repair firearms. The French responded to Samori Ture's expansion of regional control with military pressure. French campaigns against Samori Ture, which were met with fierce resistance, intensified in the mid-1890s until he was captured in 1898.

Aimé Henri Konan Bédié was the 2nd President of Ivory Coast from 1993 to 1999. Bedié excluded many potential opponents from the army. In late 1999, a group of disgruntled officers staged a military coup, putting General Robert Guéï in power. Bedié fled into exile in France. The new leadership reduced crime and corruption, and the generals pressed for austerity and openly campaigned in the streets for a less wasteful society. He is currently the President of the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire - African Democratic Rally (PDCI-RDA).

Laurent Gbagbo won the October 2000 presidential election. He is a Roman Catholic. In 2010, Côte d'Ivoire had a presidential election that saw Gbagbo face off with Alassane Ouattara. Gbagbo, whose mandate had Laurent expired in 2005, had delayed the election several times. Laurent Gbagbo is currently in the custody of the International Criminal Court, where he faces charges of murder, rape and persecution.
Simone Ehivet Gbagbo- Former first lady was sentenced to 20 years in prison, On 10 March 2015. 
Simone Gbagbowas known as the Ivorian “Iron Lady” behind her husband.
“Iron Lady”. Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of :

Alassane Ouattara has been President since 2011. He is a Muslim.

The 2010–11 Ivorian crisis was a political crisis in Ivory Coast which began after Laurent Gbagbo, the President of Ivory Coast since 2000, was proclaimed the winner of the Ivorian election of 2010, the first election in the country in 10 years. The opposition candidate, Alassane Ouattara, and a number of countries, organisations and leaders worldwide claimed Ouattara had won the election. After months of attempted negotiation and sporadic violence, the crisis entered a decisive stage as Ouattara's forces began a military offensive in which they quickly gained control of most of the country and besieged key targets in Abidjan, the country's largest city. International organizations have reported numerous human rights violations, and the UN undertook its own military action with the stated objective to protect itself and civilians.
A significant step in bringing an end to the crisis occurred on 11 April 2011 upon the capture and arrest of Gbagbo in Abidjan by pro-Ouattara forces backed by French forces.

Ivory Coast has produced several players who have played in Europe, including Didier Drogba, Yaya Touré, Wilfried Bony, Seydou Doumbia, Gervinho, Serge Aurier, Salomon Kalou and Kolo Touré. The Côte d'Ivoire national football team is generally considered to be one of the best teams to come from Africa.

 Named one of Time's most influential people in the world, Didier gets credit for uniting the civil-war torn Côte d'Ivoire.
Didier Drogba.
Image from

Yaya Touré.
Image courtesy of


Ivorians love their fashion statements loud, just as most West African countries. They have a fashion week where designers showcase their work.

Image from

An interesting scandal that recently rocked the Ivorian Fashion scene, was the death of
Awa Fadiga an Ivorian Fashion model at 23.

Ivorian music is characterized by vocal polyphony especially among the Baoulé, talking drums especially among the Nzema people and by the characteristic polyrhythms found in rhythm in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Popular music genres from Ivory Coast include zouglou and Coupé-Décalé.

 Interesting to find  out that great musicians like Alpha Blondy and Magic System band have come from this great African country. 

Alpha Blondy courtesy of


Cuisine: Bissap from Burkina Faso

Assigned with the task to make a type of food or beverage from Burkina Faso, I settled on making bissap, a
hibiscus drink.
Making this drink was easy as I had time and again had this drink at home just that I later realized it was
originally from Burkina Faso. Other than that, I was sure I would not need professional "tasting" before I presented the drink to class in order to certify it is fit for consumption by using my dear friend as an experimental specimen. 
To make bissap, you will need hibiscus tea bags (how convenient), hot water; whatever amount that the consumer desires, sugar and ice cubes if need be. 
1. First boil the water to a moderate temperature.
2. Soak two hibiscus tea bags in the water and wait five minutes for the drink to brew. Let the tea bags soak  for as much time as you want depending on the level of redness you would wish your drink to achieve. 
3. Add 3-4 tablespoons of sugar and stir till all the sugar is completely dissolved.
4. Ice cubes may be incorporated in the drink if a cooling effect is desired by the consumer or it can be served hot on a cold day.
The good thing about bissap is its enticing red colour, sweet aroma and strawberry taste. 
Now, I'm sure you'll fall in love with this drink once you've tried it. 
If this is your first time tasting it...feel free to thank me later for the enlightenment (LOL!).
If you a regular like me then please make a mug-full of bissap and appreciate Burkina Faso for their wonderful creation.    

Insight on Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso was originally inhabited by the Bobo, Lobi and Gurunsi with the Mossi and Gurma migrating into the region later on. The land of the Mossi became a French protectorate in 1879 and became a separate colony in 1919 called the Upper Volta that was later partitioned among Niger, the Sudan and Cote d'Ivoire. Upper Volta later became independent on August 4th 1984  where they later changed the name to Burkina Faso meaning "the country of honorable people". 

 Back in 1984, Marxist and Burkinabe Military Captain  Thomas Sankara assumed power. He was a charismatic leader  who mobilized the masses to launch a massive development movement. 
Thomas Sankara believed in equality among all people and therefore ensured the equitable distribution of natural as well as man made resources. He believed in the policy of earning what you worked for which was seen as he still earned the salary of a Captain while he was the President of Burkina Faso. 
His children were also treated the same way as any other ordinary Burkinabe children attending public schools with their father, the President, taking them to school on a bicycle!
The measures taken by Thomas Sankara were met with growing resistance and resistance despite his initial popularity. Tension began to surface in the implementation of the revolutionary movement that eventually led to the assassination of Sankara in a coup which brought Blaise Compaore into power.  
 On Christmas day of 1985, Burkina Faso fought in a five-day war with Mali that saw the death of over 100 people in dispute over the mineral rich Agacher strip. The conflict ended after meditation by the then president of Cote d'Ivoire but the Christmas war is largely remembered in Burkina Faso today.

Burkina Faso is a multilingual country with an estimated 69 languages spoken all over the country. The official language is French which was introduced in the country during the colonial period. French is the principle language of administrative, political and judicial institutions, public service and the press. 
Education for the deaf in Burkina Faso uses American Sign Language though there is also an indigenous urban sign language in Ougadougou. 

    The music of Burkina Faso includes folklore music of the over 60 different ethnic groups. Burkinabe traditional music has continued to thrive and musical output remains quite diverse. Popular music is mostly in French: Burkina Faso is yet to produce Pan-African success in terms of music. 
The national anthem of Burkina Faso "Une Seule Nuit" was written by Thomas Sankara .
The national Museum of Music in Ougadougou began collecting musical instruments like the balafon drums seen above in 1998 to preserve the rich history of Burkinabe music. 
The Semaine Nationale de la Culture, held every two years from 1983 is a musical festival that has helped produce popular music stars like Koudbi Koala. 
Popular traditional groups in Burkina Faso balafon bands,kora, percussion ensembles and others who use use elements relevant to Burkinabe music. 
The Kora, similar to the Nyatiti in Kenya is also one popular music instrument common in Burkina Faso. It initially featured seven strings until the Gambian griot Madi Woulendi increased the number twenty-one.

 Masks occupy an important position in the religious life of Burkina Faso. The use of masks in initiation ceremonies and funerals is quite typical in Burkina Faso. Masks appear at burials to observe on behalf of the ancestors that proper burial procedures are carried out. 
Masks attend to honor the deceased and to verify that the spirit of the deceased has been received well into the spirit world. Without a proper funeral the spirit remains near the home haunting its descendants. 

Bwaba dancing masks
The Bwa wooden masks represent different characters related to the myths of their families and clans.
The Bwa masks are chromatic white, red and black as predominant colors. 
The days of the dance, everybody sweeps their compounds then put on their best outfits awaiting the ceremony. 

Festima Festival
Great mask festival attended by around 40 villages each of them represented by their own chosen group of masks. 
This festival attracts tourists from as far as the capital Ougadougou. At that point the festival turns into a collective moment of socialization. This event also features story-tellers that are in competition to reveal their own talent.
Dancing masks in March and April where masks invoke the rain
Every year when it comes to the rainy season, villagers in Burkina Faso rely on the masks to get good rains. The masks are entrusted to act as intermediaries able to communicate directly with the gods. 
FESPACO (Festival of the African Cinema)
One of the most important festivities revealing the African cinema. It happens every two years in Ougadougou. This is a good time to travel to Burkina Faso if you are interested in cinematography as you will get the chance to meet other African as well as international movie enthusiasts. 
The festival was created in 1969 and it is celebrated every two years with the 24th edition being in 2015.