in Abidjan, the Congolese keep the rumba flame burning

in Abidjan, the Congolese keep the rumba flame burning

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Twenty-one years later, Anderson Edima still has stars in his eyes when he talks about his first hours in Ivory Coast. It was March 7, 2001. The two-meter giant landed at Abidjan airport from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where confusion had reigned since the assassination of President Laurent-Désiré Kabila in his palace two months earlier.

On a small piece of paper in his hand, Anderson Edima has the number one “brother”actually a distant relative who has been living in Ivory Coast for several years and is counting on him to reach Europe ” as soon as possible “. Apart from this relative, he knows nothing and no one in this West African country, the scene of a coup that a few months earlier, in December 1999, overthrew President Henri Conan Bédié.

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Once the luggage was left at the hotel, Anderson Edima and his “brother” head to rue Princesse, in the town of Yopougon, the main entertainment venue in the economic capital of Ivory Coast, whose reputation crosses borders. The music is loud, people are swaying, the beer is flowing. “Welcome to Ivory Coast! », the cousin eludes him by taking him back to the hotel in the early hours of the morning.

“I immediately understood that we are Ivorians and Congolese, we were the same, we like the show and the atmosphere”, says Anderson Edima, now 57 years old. Love at first sight is instant. The only downside is that he finds local food ” very bad “. The countrymen then direct him to the town of Marcory, where Congolese restaurants flourished for several years.

Between 2,000 and 3,000 people

Because like him, thousands of Congolese have fled the political and security upheavals that are shaking the largest country in the Great Lakes region to find refuge on the shores of the Ebrié Lagoon. They benefit from a common language, French, and a relatively similar way of life.

Many leaders of the Mobutu regime settled in Ivory Coast after its fall in 1997.

Among them, dozens of executives from the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko settled there after the fall of the “marshal” in 1997. Thus, the very powerful Honoré Ngbanda, the former head of the Zairian intelligence services, who even eventually became a special adviser to President Laurent Gbagbo.

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