*Marguerite Abouet – To conclude my diary of my trip to Ivory Coast, we can only mention Marguerite Abouet, award-winning author of the AYA AYA book series. of Yopougon (Aya from Yopougon).
Meet her as part of the guest designers at 6e Cocobulles comic strip festival in Abidjan, the writer Marguerite Abouet was born in the Yopougon district of Abidjan in Ivory Coast and settled in Paris, where she completed her studies. The first book in his acclaimed Aya graphic novel series, Aya de Yopougon, was published in 2005, illustrated by Clément Oubrerie, a well-known French illustrator in his own right. Abouet explained to me that on the 7the a series of AYA is in preparation.
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Sitting and watching the excitement among schoolchildren and Aya fans, one could only appreciate how popular AYA books are and how famous Abouet is in his home country. She led workshops with schoolchildren during the Cartoon Festival in Treichville, Abidjan. The AYA series follows the life of a teenage girl in Abidjan in the late 1970s and from an African perspective, Abouet portrays a more realistic view of Africa through his AYA books.
Abouet’s AYA books have sold over 350,000 copies and have been translated into 15 languages. His other works include the children’s book Akissi: Cats Attack (2010). When you get an AYA book, you want to read the rest of the series. I have read all the AYA series except the seventh to fall in 2022. The icing on the cake was to meet Marguerite Abouet in her own country of birth, the Ivory Coast.
Grand-Bassam – A colonial town showing its age
I have noticed for a long time that cartoon festivals promote tourism regardless of the country where they are held. Thus, after the various events and activities of the 6e Cocobulles Cartoon Festival, the cartoonists were taken to the former French colonial capital of Côte d’Ivoire, Grand-Bassam, a tourist attraction next to Koral beach. A seaside town about 45 minutes from Abidjan.
The historic center of Grand-Bassam was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012. Most of the colonial buildings appear abandoned or partly empty have stood the test of time even though they look abandoned, frightening and some, all the same inhabited. The first banking building in Côte d’Ivoire is also located in Grand-Bassam among the other colonial buildings. I must say however that Grand-Bassam and its colonial buildings, is a dream for Hollywood filmmakers.
The coastal town itself is a must visit for tourists and vacationers, locally and internationally, as it serves as a center of craftsmanship. There are several hotels to choose from. Koral beach itself is a beauty and the atmosphere, the sun, the cool breeze and the people… an African delight, an African pride.
I try to fundraise to buy art supplies when I travel to donate them to young budding artists at cartoon festivals. In Côte d’Ivoire, it was the same as before in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Cameroon. In Ivory Coast being my recent trip, the eyes lit up with promising art students and comic book lovers receiving donated items, such as comics, graphic novels, sharpie pens and mechanical pencils. , USB sticks, mini iPad, string bags and drawing pads. Those who could only notice, saw me giving away the articles, thought it was a good idea to emulate. Kudos to Mr Lee Bailey, founder of EURWEB, Dr Clive Timehin and Pete Olorunlonisomo (Pete Godismo) for supporting a worthy gesture that has brought smiles and appreciation to the faces of many young artists and professionals in grass in various centers linked to the festival. I remember making the same gesture in Cameroon, where many started to call me Papa Noël (Father Christmas).
TAYO Fatunla is an award-winning Nigerian comic book artist, editorial designer, writer and illustrator. African diaspora artist. He graduated from the prestigious Kubert School in New Jersey, USA. and recipient of the 2018 ECBACC Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award for his illustrated work OUR ROOTS creation and series – Famous figures in black history – He participated in the UNESCO Cartooning In Africa forum held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and the Cartooning Global Forum in Paris, France and participated at the Afropolitan Comics virtual comic book exhibition organized by the French Institute