West Africa

Ivory Coast Culture and Literature

The civil wars that still at the beginning of the century. XXI tear the country largely blocked relations with the rest of the world and the further development of a modern ‘culture’ as it is commonly understood. Fortunately, the artisanal and artistic productions, which have always been extraordinary, remain among the best in this part of the continent: masks and statues of carved wood or copper, fabrics painted with geometric and animal motifs, musical instruments. Among the festivals, the ones related to the carnival period are very suggestive. One of the most important carnivals on the continent is that of Bouaké, a kind of friendship celebration that lasts about a week. Particularly interesting is the Fête de l’Abissa in Grand Bassam (October), on the occasion of which the deceased are honored. Another notable event is the Feast of the Masks, which takes place near Man in February: dancers and masks from the surrounding regions gather here, testifying to the great importance that masks hold for the Dan ethnic group. As far as music is concerned, the reggae of Alpha Blondy (stage name of Seydou Koné), born in Dimbokro in 1953, has assumed an international resonance. The areas declared World Heritage by UNESCO are national parks.  Visit ezinesports.com for types of travel in Africa.

CULTURE: TRADITIONS

In the great variety of cultural traditions it is possible to recognize, broadly speaking, some concepts common to the whole country. The many recurrences are often referable to moments of family life or village life, generally connected with the seasons and agricultural work and connected to music, dances and the use of masks. Very famous are the dances on the stilts of the young Danes that take place in the mountain villages; participants dance on three-meter-high stilts, wearing scary masks and disguises. Another very particular show is the one that can be seen in some centers such as Bloleu and Diourouzon, where some men organize performances as jugglers using little girls. The woman keeps the simple traditional costume (pagne) but European clothing is widely established. The diet focuses on a basic dish, usually rice, attiéké (cassava) or fufu (yam), supplemented by a peanut, walnut or eggplant “sauce”, sometimes enriched with meat. The traditional dish is chicken or guinea fowl cooked with vegetables in a clay pot (kedjenou). Another very popular dish is aloco, made with bananas fried in palm oil.

CULTURE: LITERATURE

The Ivory Coast presents the case of a national culture in gestation. The varied oral tradition retains its vitality, but has lost its ritual roots and is about to be reduced to folklore. Many scholars, of which AJ Amon d’Aby is the most illustrious, try to save its heritage while avoiding reducing it to an archaeological find. Schooling in the French language has produced a new culture, in which the contributions of Western civilization have overlapped or merged with native cultures, and the French language itself evolves under the influence of the vernacular languages. The written production of the twentieth century appears, as a whole, to be of a good standard. Theater is the most widely represented genre, with historical dramas and satirical comedies. The works of Essoi Adiko, Joseph Miezan Bognini, Amadou Koné, Charles Zegono Nokan, Bernard Zadi Zaouru, who are also poets and prose writers. But above all it stands out Bernard B. Dadié, whose works well represent national literary trends: on the one hand the exaltation of the great heroes of the past, on the other the satire of customs and the moral or social criticism of contemporary life. Dadié was also responsible for his first novel, Climbié (1956). Poetry, while singing love, nature and the anguish of death, is dominated by the theme of freedom, and is often an instrument of denunciation of social inequalities, always remaining in the context of négritude.. Since the 1960s, the novel has undergone a process of maturation not only in terms of content, with the introduction of a more exact assessment of social reality, but also of form. In the following decades, literary development was enhanced by two publishing houses operating in Abidjan, which encourage fiction and promote research in the field of oral tradition. The novel reaches full maturity and prevails over other genres, with a quantitatively impressive production that addresses all the themes of society. Ahmadou Kourouma (1927-2006) should be remembered, who with Monné, outrages et défis (1990; Monné, outrages and provocations) achieved a wide and well-deserved international fame for his highly personal style; Jean-Maria Adiaffi, a very original writer (La carte d’identité, The identity card, 1980); and then G. Oupoh, T. Dem, IB Koulibaly (Les deux amis, I due amici, 1978), P. Yao Akoto. The narrative has been enriched with the works of Jérôme Carlos and with the novelists P. Demanois, JC Guenaman and Bandama Maurice, whose book Le fils de la femme mâle (1993; The son of the male woman) was crowned by the Literary Grand Prize of black Africa. Compelling literary researches, inaugurated by Niangoran Porquet and A. Touré with the launch of the griotique (theatrical synthesis of the art of the narrator, poet and playwright), continue with B. Zadi, A. Kodé and LA Kanié. In the contemporary literary world, Tanella Boni (b. 1954) stands out, who teaches at university in France: writer, poet, literary and art critic, she is an attentive and active observer of the African female world.

Ivory Coast Culture