Saturday, 6 May 2017
HISTORY OF IVORY COAST (CÔTE D’IVOIRE) - WEST AFRICA
Black history and slavery go together. Africans who were brought here and used as slaves came from many parts of Africa and there are stories. About Ivory Coast, I’ve heard the House of Slaves’ story on the Gorée Island (Senegal), but it never crossed my mind that Ivoirians might have been enslaved, too. My mom told me a legend about some chains found in her village when she was little. It was said that the villagers originally came down from heaven. They landed on earth via celestial shackles until they broke down. This was an excellent fairy tale.
Due to the lack of archaeological finding, before the 17th century, there was no information about Ivory Coast’s history. The tribes kept oral traditions maintained with theatrical and ritual dances. The Akan - Ashanti Kingdom’s descendants - migrated from the Gold Coast (actual Ghana) to settle in Ivory Coast’s south and central area. The Mande (Sudanese ancestors: Mali, Guinea, and Niger) - known today as ethnic groups: Gouro, Malinké, Yacouba, and Gban - occupied the north and the west of Ivory Coast. The Gur (Voltaic ancestors) moved to the eastern area; they created the Senoufo, Lobi, Loro and Kouanlango dialects. The Mandé and the Gur practised Islam. The Akan were animist. Since the 14th century, Europeans settlers have invaded Africa. After the French invasion, most Akan became Catholic. In the midst of the 19th century, mighty warriors like the King Samori Touré (Mandé descent from Guinea) fought against European settlers. The Touré’s mission was to convert all West Africa to Islam. He terrorized the animist population from Guinea to the northern Ivory Coast. If a woman refused to plead allegiance to Islam, she was forced to pound her baby in a mortar. On September 29, 1898, Samori Touré was captured by the French colonial army at Guelemou (Ivory Coast). He was exiled to Ndjolé (Gabon) where he died on June 2, 1900.
The French settlers divided the territories for their own interest without paying attention to the tribe’s dynamics. 78 dialects are spoken in Ivory Coast. French is the official language, and Dioula is the domestic trades’ language. Now, I found out the source of tribal hostilities and wars. That makes sense. Some tribes did get along while most tribes fought constantly.
With the authorization of Global Eyes Magazine: Manitoba African and Carribean Quaterly Magazine – February 2017, page 3.