Killing and Dancing in Abidjan

 Saturday, April 9 2011: are not good in Cote d’Ivoire which in its heyday was called “The Paris of Africa.” The battles between Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara are turning into a civil war but there has been a low-grade battle between these parties for much of 2000s so conditions have already deteriorated to a new low for what was a prominent and successful West African city. Today’s Times brings more bad news after a week of battles which seemed to be leading to Gbagbo’s ouster. Not that the other guy is a prize but I suppose it says something that he was elected.

Abidjan skyline–2001

In 1999 and 2001 I went Abidjan to the Arts and Spectacle Market or MASA as it was known. The city was experiencing unrest and even a minor coup or two on either side of these events but the show did go on in those years.  My notes describe a calm sunny city, friendly, good food, artists everywhere. I stayed at the Hotel Ivoire and saw my first African contemporary dance. Lots of it. Much of it powerful and original—some pieces like Vincent Mantsoe’s Gula , vivid and unforgettable however many times I see it. So, even though the city and country were fraying at the edges the dancing never stopped.

MASA announced by sea

Beach chickens

Fishing equipment

Tuareg horsemen

Beach at Grand-Bassam

Handsome Ivoirian kid

First ever taste of African homebrew


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