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Last Updated: Monday, 18 February 2008, 11:36 GMT
Ivory Coast's 'big-bottom' craze
Bobaraba dancers

By John James
BBC News, Abidjan

A national dance craze in Ivory Coast has spawned a black market in treatments claiming to increase one's bottom size.

The dance in question has been inspired by DJ Mix and DJ Eloh's hit song Bobaraba, which means "big bottom" in the local Djoula language.

DJ Mix (l) and DJ Eloh (r)
We made it as a tribute to women, because African women are defined by the shape of their bottoms
DJ Mix (left)

When it plays you can be guaranteed that the dance floor will be packed with people shaking their derrieres.

Even Ivorian footballers have adopted the moves and could be seen wiggling their bottoms in a curious on-pitch dance after each goal scored during the just-ended Africa Nations Cup.

However, doctors have warned of the possible dangers of some of the concoctions on sale.

While the dance has been embraced by both sexes, DJ Mix says it was inspired by women.

"We made it as a tribute to women, because African women are defined by the shape of their bottoms," he says.

"Move your bottom, jump, you see, it's alive."

Kady Meite, one of his dancers, says the song is a message for women.

"There are women today with large bottoms who are embarrassed, so it's to say don't be ashamed - be comfortable," she says.

The message seems to have been taken on board - so much so that some women are now going in search of a "bobaraba".


In the sprawling Adjame market just north of the city centre in Abidjan, women sell "bottom enhancers".

Adjame market
Bottom enhancing treatments sell for $2

"You need to inject this liquid into your bottom once a day," says a market trader, showing a vial of coloured liquid labelled "Vitamin B12".

Each vial costs $2. The label claims it is made in China.

If you do not like the sound of injections, the same amount of money will also get you a small tub of cream.

There is no description of what the product contains or how to apply it; just the words "Big bottoms and big breasts", and two illustrating pictures.

Local gynaecologist Dr Marcel Sissoko is sceptical about the concoctions.

I do the bobaraba because I already have a big bum

"This medicine could be dangerous for your health because we don't know the ingredients. It's being used without a medical prescription," he warns.

"The health ministry hasn't authorised this and doctors don't know what's in there, so there are risks."

At the Micronutrient Information Centre at Oregon State University in the United States, Dr Victoria Drake says she knows of no scientific evidence that vitamin B12 can be used to treat anything except vitamin B12 deficiency.


DJ Mix admits there is now a growing fashion for young women to show off their bottoms.

Ivorian footballers doing the football dance
The bobaraba craze is even visible on the football pitch

"If a woman goes dancing and wants to take two or three treatments, no problem," he says.

"But we don't say to girls that they must take treatment to enhance your bottom, no."

One man on the streets of Abidjan agreed: "Us boys, we appreciate these things because when women use the treatment it attracts us, but for women it's not good."

Most women I spoke to preferred to avoid the treatments.

"Me? I prefer to be natural so you can know your true value. It's best not to use these medicines. It's not good - it's actually very dangerous," one said.

Another woman was happy with what came naturally.

"I do the bobaraba because I already have a big bum. When I dance, everyone looks at me."

Ghana 2008: Nations Cup diary
07 Feb 08 |  Africa
Country profile: Ivory Coast
16 Jan 08 |  Country profiles


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