Ivory Coast: the affirmation of a cultural spring | EUROtoday

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V8 o'clock on the Palais de la Culture in Abidjan, in a bustling ambiance, younger and outdated alike are busy not desirous to miss the beginning of a play, a circus act or a live performance. For his thirteenthe version, the Performing Arts Market (Masa) continues to draw an ever-increasing viewers from throughout the continent. If the crowds flock across the imposing constructing of the commune of Treichville, the organizers have additionally taken over different locations of Abidjan cultural life resembling the big Inch'Allah sq. in Koumassi, the French Institute or the premises of its German counterpart, the Goethe-Institut. Behind this group, a double goal: to supply artists a global illustration house to promote their works, and to supply the general public a variety of free reveals open to all.

For Abdramane Kamate, appointed common director of Masa in 2023, the thirty years of this assembly organized as a biennial are the image of an “event which has managed to last”. The man who accomplished all his lessons inside the French cultural community, from N'Djamena to Djakarta, insists on the means deployed to take care of this success: “We are today at more than 80% of our budget provided by the Ivorian Ministry of Culture”; the remaining part being financed by the International Organization of the Francophonie and the Autonomous District of Abidjan. This notable participation of public authorities thus makes it possible to attract artists from all over Africa. Especially since the Masa offers full support for the troops, covering transport, accommodation, catering and artistic style. This principle represents for many unknown talents an opportunity to perform for the first time outside their region or country of origin.

To choose these eclectic artists, the Masa administration selected an solely digital process. “With this transition, the applications received have become younger,” greets Mr. Kamate, not and not using a smile. The groups additionally needed to open the market to different areas: “Africa is plural, we project ourselves well beyond a strictly French-speaking expression. » This is how groups from Portuguese-speaking countries such as Mozambique were able to perform this year in Abidjan. At the same time, the invitations brought buyers from South America, the Middle East and even Asia. As such, South Korea was among the two guests of honor at this market. An expansion strategy that seems to be working, since over the course of a week, no less than nine hundred meetings were organized between programmers and artists. Sometimes fruitful interviews, like the Zolo de Koriani – traditional dancers from northern Ivory Coast – who signed for an eight-date tour of Venezuela.

The pride of place for music and literature

A few weeks later, it was the turn of the Anoumabo Urban Music Festival (Femua) to liven up the warm May evenings. The 16e edition of this now unmissable event brings together popular artists from an entire continent. The programming was able to bring the Ghanaian rapper Sarkodie into dialogue with the essential Gims, but also the Ivorian phenomenon behind the CAN anthem: Tam Sir. Conceived as a large popular and free mass in its original commune by its founder and the leader of the Magic System group, A'salfo, the event also intends to be a voice for social issues. On the sidelines of the concerts, it was the theme of young people's mental health which commanded most of the discussions with the numerous media present. With more than 1,500 artists represented since its creation, the organizers have also responded to the need for decentralization of culture by relocating part of the programming to Ferkéssédougou. Quite a symbol since this city, close to the Burkinabe border, is certainly among the furthest from the economic capital.

At the same time, the Abidjan International Book Fair (Sila) took place at the Exhibition Center, whose futuristic structure sits proudly in the Abidjan commune of Port-Bouët. If the market remains for the moment mainly focused on books dedicated to school needs, the stands of the different publishing houses offer a variety of literature. Among them, the Ivorian subsidiary of L'Harmattan seems to be doing well. In addition to the regular publication of successful novels, the publisher also offers a wide selection of popular works covering vast subjects such as economics, philosophy or even contemporary history. On site, the actors met speak of a demand that is still timid – so compared to the West – but which is gradually becoming structured. Proof of the interest shown in this emerging sector, the arrival of President Alassane Ouattara, on the occasion of a tribute paid within the framework of the show to the pressman Béchir Ben Yahmed.

Abidjan has therefore established itself as a major cultural center in West Africa and on the continent. To this observation, the director of Masa adds that the economic capital “has been an essential passage for artists for many decades”. From Salif Keïta to Youssou N'Dour, together with Michael Jackson, all have contributed to the emergence of the Ivorian cultural pool. Between now and subsequent spring, Ivory Coast ought to proceed to rejoice tradition by internet hosting, in September, the primary version of the Ecofest competition, initiated by ECOWAS with the purpose of selling the emergence of a inventive business within the area.