By John Owoo
(In Abidjan – La Côte d’Ivoire)
Ashakata Dance Group from Benin on Monday took the Salle Kojdo Ebouclé at the Palais de la Culture in Abidjan by storm with a performance that showcased a dramatic blend ancestral dance forms with contemporary movements.
Titled “Les Intrepids”, the neo traditional piece embraced sacred ancestral movements, which the dancers reinterpreted through contemporary moves as voodoo inspired rhythms filled the elaborate performance hall.
Performing at the 10th edition of Market for the Arts in Abidjan (MASA), the artists took the audience on a mute journey to the late 1880s as they dealt with a ruling passed by an oracle while highlighting the era of fierce resistance to colonialism by Francophone West Africa.
It revealed consultations with priests and it’s consequences as orders pronounced by oracles were ignored – indeed, a subsequent war declared by a King eventually ends in surrender owing to the lack of commitment and treachery from some of his troops.
Clad in colorful costumes, the dancers evoked the fight of rural women who wish to sustain their traditional values with diverse movements while showcasing a new way of preserving our heritage through the medium of dance.
“The performance is deeply steeped in history, heritage and culture – it’s about resilience and determination of people who want to preserve their tradition while taking note of contemporary times”, said Koffie Agbo, a musician from Togo.
It was a night of over 1000 laughs at the Institut Français in Abidjan as the acclaimed Ivorian comedian / writer Adama Dahiko dug deep into his repertoire and dished out a cocktail of humor that ranged from politics, terrorism, curroption as well as the significance of numbers and alphabets.
In a two-hour blitz at the Institut Français in Abidjan, he touched on socio political issues while mimicking a number of world leaders including US president Donald Trump and several African leaders as he dilating on the issue of corruption.
He condemned the phenomenon of African leaders extending their mandate through referenda characterized by fear and intimidation and succinctly made wild fun on the relationship between African governments and the media with a short play.
“Dahiko is a bold artist with a determination to deal with the ills of our society in a satiric manner – nevertheless, it’s effect is quite phenomenal since he appears to have a huge following”, said Michelle Roux from Paris, France.
The crowd moved into a state of frenzy as he took on the character of an alcoholic who freely comments on issues in his society. His tone and demeanor added to the fun as catcalls and applause filled the auditorium.
In a rater audacious move, he set up a “conference call”, between current president Allasane Ouattara and former presidents Konan Bedie and Laurent Gbagbo while mimicking their voices in a near perfect manner.
Over 70 music, dance and theatre groups alongside poets, storytellers, slammers and street artists from various countries in the world are expected to perform during the festival, which ends on Saturday March 17.
Pictures – Mychel Tayee