Three years have passed by since the end of the last crisis in Côte d'Ivoire. Ever since, the former «Switzerland of West Africa» has been progressing at a surprising speed. Until 2020, the country shall develop into an emerging country, propagates President Alassane Dramane Ouattara. An atmosphere of departure can be felt throughout the country. Freelance journalist Valentin Zill has moved to Abidjan a few weeks ago and presents a list that reflects this atmosphere of departure without forgetting about the problems the country is facing.
Artist: Magic System
Track: Tu es fou
The magiciens are mainstream not only in Côte d’Ivoire. They recorded their most recent clip in Paris, where they spend most of their time. Many well-known Ivorian artists are still there in exile. Magic System doesn’t need to hide, though. Every few months, the magicians fly home – preferably on board of the plane of France’s President François Hollande. Ils sont fou.
Artist: Ismaël Isaac feat. Mokobé
Track: Je reste
Civil war, crisis, political skirmishes or not: Ismaël Isaac always stayed in Côte d’Ivoire. Together with Alpha Blondy and Tiken Jah Fakoly, he’s the spearhead of the huge Ivorian reggae scene, although he hadn’t released an album in 14 years. Now he’s back. Je reste is the title of his new LP. It’s played tirelessly at every corner. In the title track, he claims together with Malian rapper Mokobé that he prefers to stay in Côte d’Ivoire to help it progress than to risk his life on the dangerous traverse to Europe. The entire country sings along.
Artist: Amy Bamba
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The Ivorians’ tolerance towards various religious beliefs is legendary. It is one of the reasons why Amy Bamba returned to Abidjan. Half of the Ivorians are Christians, the other half Muslims. Most of the public venues are controlled by churches or mosques. Gospel music is a favorite genre here. Amy Bamba, who sang backing vocals for Alpha Blondy for twenty years and worked with legends like Manu Dibango, Aïcha Koné, Salif Keita, and Touré Kunda, spreads a gospel message on a zoblazo rhythm here. And Muslims like to listen to her as well.
Artist: Tonton Zela
Track: Je roule kdo
Tonton Zela is the zouglou newcomer of 2013. In «Je roule kdo», he tells the story of a taxi driver who thinks he can rip off his white passengers by taking idiotic detours. The taxi driver ends up being the fool when his passengers show him a gun. The ride is thus cadeau, which is to say it’s free. He narrates the story with a good deal of Ivorian humor. Tonton Zela reminds his fellow Ivorians, who can’t leave the crisis behind them fast enough, that dishonest short cuts don’t pay off.
Artist: DJ Lewis
Track: Stop Ebola
In a country where 43% of the population are illiterate, musicians play a role that can be compared to that of journalists: they provide information and commentate on politics. While Ebola is raging in neighboring Liberia and helpers face resistance based on superstition, there hasn’t been a single confirmed case of Ebola in Côte d’Ivoire yet. That is due in parts to measures suggested by the government and largely implemented by the Ivorians. DJ Lewis helps those who can’t read the Ministry of Health’s suggestions. He had once created the avian flu dance (grippe aviaire) and is thus an expert when it comes to dealing with epidemics musically.