Recent news report on Al Jazeera
It has been quite disheartening watching the post-election crisis in Cote d’Ivoire turn from yet another power struggle among African politicians to very dangerous and explosive situation. I’m watching this from a room in Brooklyn, a couch in Northern Virginia; seeing yet another African country on the brink of civil war after its leader refuses to step down gracefully following an election. Mind you, Ivory Coast is still healing and rebuilding from a recent civil war.
In late November, President Laurent Gbagbo, who has ruled the Ivory Coast for the past ten years, lost to opposition candidate Alassane Ouattara in the presidential elections, elections which Gbagbo has already postponed five times in the last six years, meaning polls taking place in 2010 should have happened in 2005! Gbagbo, backed by the national army and security forces/hired youths – “young patriots”/militias refuses to concede and hand over power to Alassane Ouattara, who is recognized as the clear winner by regional body ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations and most countries. Ouattara also has the support of former rebel forces (fighters from the civil war still armed and active!)
At the moment, tensions are high. The situation gets awful, more dire with each news report. With more than 170 people reported killed in the post election violence, thousands are fleeing into neighboring countries – with most people seeking refuge in Liberia and Guinea. ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) initially talked about armed intervention using its military wing ECOMOG (which was instrumental in bringing peace to Liberia and Sierra Leone albeit criticisms of abuse and property theft during the civil wars in those countries) but later open the door for more discussions with Gbagbo. In the Ivorien capital, Abidjan, Gbagbo’s security forces/militias are conducting raids, and killing dozens of Ouattara’s supporters, and also threatening to invade the UN-protected hotel in which Ouattara and his ministers are staying/trying to conduct a state business.
International pressure on Gbagbo is failing and the mediation/action from ECOWAS is providing immediate results. We hope for a peaceful settlement, but some sort of resolution must be reached soon so the situation doesn’t escalate. Something radical has to happen to turn this situation around.
Streets of Abijan – CIAfrica’s Greendog “Afristepdub“
I’ve never been to Ivory Coast (not completely true, because my mother went to Abidjan several times when she was pregnant with me) and I don’t speak or understand french (well, I resisted learning another Euporean language through my high school and college years.) I mentioned these things because I want to say I don’t completely understand CIAfrica’s lyrics and the topics raised in their songs. If you don’t know, CIAfrica is a militant, pan-Africanist rap/reggae/bass music collective based in Abidjan. The collective came of age during the turbulent years of the Gbagbo administration, marked by civil and military unrest. According to the song descriptions/summaries of the tracks on their album on Dutty Artz, CIAfrica makes defiant music, speaks out against fraudulent, hoggish leaders who are determined to stay in power no matter how much blood is spilled, against corruption and brutalization. They are making music in this currently political chaos, and are hustling and trying to visit Europe and North America in 2011. Listen to the track “Negro Politicien” -
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