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Alpha Blondy
There were no other political alternatives to the coup
 real 28k

Wednesday, 12 January, 2000, 20:02 GMT
Ivorian reggae star supports coup

Alpha Blondy in concert Alpha Blondy: "The day the coup happened I was very happy."


Popular Ivorian reggae star Alpha Blondy has been speaking about his joy over the coup that toppled the government of former President Henri Konan Bedie.

"I was pleased because there were no other political alternatives and the head of state was getting very xenophobic and very tribalistic," Alpha Blondy said in an interview with the BBC.

"So the day the coup happened I was very happy."

Xenophobia

The ousted president has sought to use the policy of "Ivoirite" or "Ivorian-ness" to disqualify former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara from contesting presidential elections originally scheduled for October this year.

The authorities said Mr Ouattara's parents were not Ivorians but Burkinabe from neighbouring Burkina Faso - but he insists he is Ivorian.


Henri Konan Bedie Bedie: Approached Blondy for help

The ideology of "Ivoirite" marginalised an estimated 40% of the Ivorian population (mainly Muslim northerners) who could be classified as foreigners.

Blondy, himself a northerner whose real name is Kone Seydou, was once considered to be close to the ousted president - a charge he denies.

"I never sang for him," Blondy insists.

"I was received by him in 1995. I was told by him that the country was on the verge of a civil war. And he asked me what I could do to stop that war.

"I did a tour called The Unity Tour. After this tour I was insulted by his [Bedie's] journalists saying that I was working for the opposition.

"You can't do a national unity tour without the opposition, okay?"

Radical songs banned

Blondy became disillusioned with Bedie's rule and increasingly became an outspoken critic of the government.


Alpha Blondy on postcard Alpha Blondy: "The head of State was getting very xenophobic"

Many of his songs and those of some other radical reggae musicians were banned on both national and private state and private radio and television stations in Ivory Coast.

Blondy's type of reggae embraced many poignant international themes, as reflected in the titles of some of his albums: "Revolution" "SOS Guerre Tribale" and "Apartheid is Nazism".

He and his Solar System band brought a fresh African element into reggae, with Blondy himself singing in various languages including French, English, Hebrew and Arabic.

His songs spoke against dictatorship, division, repression, and tribalism.

His last album, "Yitzak Rabin" was dedicated to the assassinated Israeli leader but contained a song against French colonialism, "Armee Francaise" and another warning against civil war in Africa, "Guerre Civile".

It was believed that the songs did not go down very well with Mr Bedie. They were however widely used by opposition parties at their rallies.

Songs for the revolution

But since the 24 December military coup, all the banned Alpha Blondy songs have received more air time than normal, and it seems that the media can not get enough of the previously banned artistes.

Immediately after the coup all the songs were played non-stop on national radio.

Blondy believes that the new military leader, General Robert Guei, is following the example of the first Ivorian President, Felix Houphouet Boigny, in burying ethnic distinctions.


General Robert Guei Guei: "Boigny in uniform"

"Today he (Guei) is talking as if he were Houphouet Boigny wearing a uniform. So everybody is happy about that.

"No exclusion. Nobody feels put aside. Nobody feels tribalised."

'Ordinary Ivorian'

Blondy insists he is not a politician but just an ordinary Ivorian who reads newspaper, watches television and listens to radio like everyone else.

He says he wants to continue talking about everyday concerns in his world.

Many of his fans will be hoping that Alpha Blondy can continue to warn General Robert Guei and other Ivorian leaders about policies that threaten to tear their nation apart.

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See also:
08 Jan 00 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Ivory Coast's unexpected coup
25 Dec 99 |  Africa
Ivory Coast's new 'Le Boss'
24 Dec 99 |  Media reports
Coup leader pledges democracy
28 Dec 99 |  Africa
Analysis: Neighbours wary over Ivory Coast coup
10 Jan 00 |  Africa
Ivorian party leader denies cronyism

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