In this small rainy season, the weather did not announce anything worthwhile. During the few days of the Urban Music Festival in Anoumabo (Femua), Abidjan, the venues predicted severe storms. In addition, the evening of Thursday, May 12, in honor of the Democratic Republic of Congo, with Viva la musica, orchestra of Papa Wemba, who died on the festival stage in 2016, and his sidekick Félix Wazekwa, turned to vinegar, canceled by a downpour. So, in order not to drink the cup definitively, the organizers decided to take the bull by the horns. And to consult the “rain commission”, just to tame the elements. Magic, sorcery: the operation worked so well that not a single drop came to ruin the party. If the anecdote can make you smile, it remains symbolic of this web of small and gigantic miracles, which weaves this glorious festival, a small utopia that has been skillfully built since 2008.
Fourteen years ago, therefore, zougloos world ambassadors, shock ambiencers, Magic System, sowed this seed, in their underprivileged districts Abidjan, Anoumabo, “village” and subdistrict to Marcory, on the outskirts of the lagoon, 70,000 inhabitants, streets of abused land, maquis and odds and ends stand, cosmopolitan population. During the editions of this completely free festival, thought of with just the right feeling, commitment, intelligence and luck, the weed sauce has gained a foothold. So much so that Femua has risen to the rankings of the continent’s major events, with its 100,000 spectators per year. Because of this success, there is no question of abandoning the backbone of adventure: its social calling. Thanks to spin-offs, Magic System builds schools, libraries, renovates hospitals …
© Pierre René-Worms / RFI
The Magic System group on the Femua 2022 stage.
Young people, Africa’s treasures
Behind the scenes of this huge protean, the ubiquitous raout, a great boss pulls the strings, with his impeccable white shirt, his little professor’s glasses and his mischievous smile of an eternal child. From his “general secretariat”, the air conditioning pushed to the max in the middle of the humid heat, explains “general commissioner” Salif Traoré, known as A’Salfo, singer in Magic System, with an Olympic calm over the storms. this year’s theme, “Youth Entrepreneurship and Employability”: “Young people (77% of Ivorians are under the age of 35, ed. note) make up Africa’s wealth, its base. But if we do not give it the necessary tools to develop, it will not be useful for the development of the continent. The crossroads of young people, during Femua, allow them, for example, to meet companies, professionals, etc. ”
Throughout the day, groups of young people, students, the stadium of the National Institute of Youth and Sports (INJS), the site of the festival and its prefabs cross, according to free and happy exchanges. They carry the future and hope. A’Salfo, their “old mogo, their old father” as they call him here, knows something about it, he who grew up on the same earth.
In keeping with the theme, the musical programming also welcomed a majority of young shots, sometimes already superstars. The venerable (and adopted) deans of this edition? The Magic System, and their “promo buddies”, zouglous holy monsters, the thundering duo with the impeccable “groove machine”, Yodé & Siro.
Fior de Bior, 100% ambiance
Among the new generation, Fior 2 Bior, the village’s child, acts as Anoumabo’s new darling. As a 23-year-old, three of whom in his career, this big guy, with a chubby head and a bit of offbeat mucus, has already made prestigious features, with rapper Niska, for example, in his tube Gnonmi with milk. In less than a week he will be preparing to conquer Europe. This Saturday, May 14, during his concert on the small stage, the audience resumes as a man his hypnotic chorus, “Godo Godo”.
As he leaves the boards, surrounded by his bodyguards, hordes of fans attack him up to his shiny SUV. It must be said that the star with the cryptic name, despite his attempts at decoding, in connection with the Holy Spirit, could be branded as “official distributor of good humor”. Because if he goes on stage, it is above all to avert his personal tragedy: the death of his father. His music? “Gbopkarada”. Either an explosive recipe for variation, rap, afro … In short! Sound for dance, which, he assumes, “carries absolutely no message”. Its role is still clear: “to moody people”. And after all, isn’t dance and the liberation of bodies also political? He himself was inspired by the event’s mentors: “Thanks to the Magic System, from my cradle Anoumabo, we tell ourselves that even from here we can become someone …”
Suspected 95, ivory rap boss
Another figure of the young guard, the self-proclaimed head of ivory rap, a hip-hop movement sweeping across the country, sung in nouchi, this slang from the streets of Abidjan, on zouglou or coupé-décalé beats, crosses the scene of ‘INJS, pursued by his fans, with this shout: “union!”. He calls himself Suspect 95, after his video game hero, a rapper with experience in martial arts, associated with his year of birth. “The boy always had his meters filled, he was unbeatable …”, he cheers.
Guy Ange Emmanuel, a child of Cocody, an exclusive district of Abidjan, the son of a colonel and a teacher, began raping in college. One of the games on the break? Freestyle sequences. To increase his grade with “go” (“the girls”), the boy sticks to the exercise. “At first I was useless, but I worked, I wrote hundreds of texts, I honed my technique. My texts were hard-hitting. They aroused enthusiasm!”
The Triomphe label discovers the young man. After graduating, he began his career as a quarterback. First big hit? Children of a boss, c’est boss, about the inevitability of social classes. Everything is already there in germ: his flow, his Nouchi accent, his commitment and above all his humor and his self-loathing. On Femua’s big stage, Suspect 95, now signed to Def Jam Africa, delivers in the middle of the night, in front of a packed audience, an impeccable and relentless show, full of strength, good humor and jokes … Suspect 95 named their fan base, their crew the “syndicate”. And for all trade unionists, there is this clear philosophy: girls and boys can be actors in their lives. “I explain to all my fans that they, like me, can fight, create their autonomy, their success, he says. They must not rely on anyone, but rather create their own turn, thanks to their work, to their conviction. … ”
© Pierre René-Worms / RFI
Femuas audience 2022.
An attitude in line with that defended by the Magic System that is crowded on stage in Femua on Saturday 14 May around 23:00, in the presence of Anoumabo’s chief and Ivory Coast’s Prime Minister Patrick Achi. Many emotions go through a compact crowd, including a bunch of teenagers, sweaty, sometimes in tears, gathered, almost to the point of dizziness, in front of the stage.
Their hits, ultra-popular, without the slightest wrinkle, carry within them all their clear and effective wisdom, as in Bouger Bouger: “As long as there is life, there is hope”, echoed by thousands of lips. And then, after a well-received Prime Minister Gaou, their anthem, in a grand finale, sounds, “there is magic in the air!”. And in front of a cloud of mobile phones transformed into torches, like so many stars and desires to blow out, we remember Prime Minister Patrick Achi’s words on the big stage just before the show: “Everything is always possible for those who dream big!” Words of magicians.