08 March 2011

Ivory Coast Soul

LISTEN: (Look at "Listen Tracks")

The situation in Ivory Coast is terribly nervous. On 28 November of last year, the opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, originating from Burkina Faso and of dioula ethnic, won the presidential elections but the ex president Laurent Gbabgo, of bête ethnic, said that this was the result of serious electoral frauds that took place in the north, where the minority of the ethnics - malinke, mossi, dioula, senoufo – predominate. This is why Gbagbo asked the intervention of the Constitutional Counsel, to him favorable, which considered illegal the elections in several northern regions, and has sanctioned Gbagbo’s victory with 51% of votes.

Since then the tension in the country has reached very high peaks. The rebels in the north and all Ouattara’s sustainers will not give up and the protest is loud but the army controlled by Gbagbo maintains control of the situation suing if necessary it’s power. Hundreds of deaths caused by the military repression. Thousands of Ivorians are leaving the country to seek refuge in Liberia while Youssoufou Bamba, the new UN ambassador, nominated by Ouattara but not recognized by Gbagbo, announced to the Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki.Moon that “Ivory Coast is close to the border of genocide. The situation is very serious. The homes have been marked based on the tribal belonging. What will happen next? Something needs to be done”.

In reality the regional and ethnic tension in Ivory Coast are present since end of the 80ies, when the politics of Fèlix Houphouet-Boigny ended, he was baoulè, the main ethnic group of the country. In mid 90ies, the ethnic differences became the main cause of internal tensions, following the institution of discriminatory laws based on the concept of “ivorianity”, established by the second president Bediè – also baoulè. It is curious that Bediè promoter of those laws that in the past excluded Ouattara from the possibility of presenting himself for the elections is now in favor of Ouattara, in the name of the common participation to the first government Boigny, and has actually made him win.

What will happen in Ivory Coast? Gbagbo will accept to leave power to Ouattara, like the international community is asking? In the hope that the situation that could explode into a civil war will instead find a right and peaceful solution, we present here Ivory Coast Soul, a fantastic collection of Ivorian soul-funk recorded in the 70ies, while the music industry in Abidjan was in Africa second only to that of Lagos.

At that time Ivory Coast’s economy was doing well thanks mostly to the production and exportation of cacao – of which the country is the first producer world wide – coffee, ananas, cotton, sugar, caucciu and palm oil. Boigny’s government worried about favoring the economic boom, for example ensuring adequate prices to farmers of their own products. Abidjan, although being the capital it is also the biggest and important city of the country which counts 7 million people, became during the 70ies the center of music production in the French speaking Africa, thanks to the presence of labels like SID, Safie Deen, Sacodisc, Badmos and many others.

Many musicians transferred to Abidjan to produce their records and staying there for some years or moving from their country to Abidjan every day. We will remember Mory Kante and Manfila Kante from Guinea, Laba Sosseh from Senegal, Sam Mangwana and Tshala Muana from Congo, Amadou Ballakde from Burkina Faso, Salif Keita, Sory Bamba and Boncana Maiga from Mali, Manu Dibango from Cameroon. At the same time Ivorian musicians had developed their music from local rhythms, mainly bête, giving birth to genres like Ziglibithy, whose most famous interpret is Ernest Djedjè.

The richness of foreign presence on the Ivorian music scene has somehow blocked the development of local genres, favoring instead the diffusion – and also excessively influence – of Congolese soukouss and zouk from the Antilles, which arrived during the 90ies first in Paris and then in French speaking Africa. Today the landscape of the mixed dance music, Ivorian genres like Zouglou and the Coupè Decalè are stars of international level. Parallel to the dancing genres, Ivory Coast also become the center of African reggae, thanks to artists like Alpha Blondy and Tiken Jah Fakoly.

In the space of Lagos Disco Inferno, Ivory Coast Soul is a selection of songs from DJ and collector Dijamel Hammadi, aka Afrobraziliero and is concentrated over the decade 72 – 82 choosing funky and disco pushy sounds which can be appreciated also by who doesn’t know African music. The Ivorian and African origin of this music is highlighted mainly for the use of the language and local idioms and for the influence of Nigerian afro beat.

The cover notes talk about the difficulty in finding vinyl in an unstable country. “12 beautiful and dangerous trips throughout Ivory Coast, dealing with political unstableness, deep economic crisis, malaria, police road blocks and fear of scorpions each time that I was searching through old vinyl”. Very appreciated, the songs are all licensed and each one has it’s original cover and some notes from the artist, which is very important seeing that the majority of the artists are unknown and have not left traces on the net.

With it’s light personality Ivory Coast Soul represents somehow the soul of a nation born without unitary ethnic and cultural basis – seeing the presence of numerous ethnics without any prevailing over the other – and subject to further un-personalization while the economic boom became the aim of the migratory fluxes for citizens coming for all over west Africa.

In his music we recognize not only funky and afro beat but also afar echoes of Ghanaian highlife, mande-dance from Mali and Guinea, mbalax from Senegal, Zaire rumba and makossa from Cameroon. Due to this, listening to Ivory Coast Soul seems also like a nice way to fly over Africa in the beginning of this new year, a useful act to remember to keep the attention over what is happening down in Ivory Coast, over people who believe to be more split than they really are, run into and for which we hope they don’t find themselves united in a civil war and violence.

Listen Tracks:
1. Okoi Seka Athanase - Melokon Mebun Ou
2. Ernesto Djedje - Zadie Bobo
3. Moussa Doumbia - Unite

Author: AAVV
Title: Ivory Coast Soul
Year: 2010
Label: Hotcasa Records

1. Pierre Antoine - Kalabuley women
2. Okoi Seka Athanase - Melokon Mebun Ou
3. Jimmy Hiacynthe - Yatchiminou
4. Santa Nguessan - Manny Nia
5. Gougoumangou - Wazi Doble
6. Ernesto Djedje - Zadie Bobo
7. K Assale - Adoue Pla Moussoue
8. Moussa Doumbia - Unite
9. Soro N Gana - Mon Falou Nan
10. Jean Guehi - Essemon Moupoh
11. Prince Dgibs - Ogningwe
12. Ali Ibrahim - La Ilaha Illalahou
13. Rato Venance - True Love

1 comment:

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