When you have a beer named after you

There's a lot of hype around Didier Drogba, including that he stopped a civil war in Cote d'Ivoire. How much truth is there to that story?

Didier Drogba. By Jay Meydad, via Flickr CC.

The Ivorian footballer, Didier Drogba, is all the rage now. Time Magazine named him to its  annual “100 Most Influential People” list, largely because of his role  to end the civil war in Cote d’Ivoire’s civil war.  As Vanity Fair reported in 2007, “A single soccer match achieves what five years of combat and negotiations could not: an apparent end to Ivory Coast’s civil war. The man who brought the warring sides together was not a politician or a gun-toting strongman, but Didier Drogba, the star striker for Ivory Coast.” As a result, Drogba apparently has god-like status in his homeland. So much so that he even spawned a dance and music style: Drogbacite. He even has a beer named after him.  At a recent panel on the 2010 World Cup I hosted at The New School that view of Drogba’s influence basically held. Not so quick says Siddhartha Mitter, journalist and music critic, who is eminently qualified on matters Ivorian.  The post is worth reading just for the valuable music education.


First, I need to set the record straight about Drogbacité– the whole “Drogba is God in RCI [the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire]” thing was highly overstated during the panel discussion. Here’s the original “Drogbacité” song by one-hit-wonder Shanaka Yakuza back in 2006. The football-move references kick in around 1:25.

(2) Compilation CD marketers, foreign football geeks, and Drogba himself all ran with the concept of course. But as a dance it came and went — just another ephemeral craze (like konami, prudencia, grippe aviaire, décalé chinois, etc) within the overall genre of coupé-décalé. Here.

(3) The “cité” suffix in Drogbacité picks up on the original style that launched coupé-décalé, “Sagacité,” invented in 2003 by the late Stéphane Doukouré aka Douk Saga. Drogbacité hit at a high-water mark for coupé-décalé, which may have run out of steam a little at this point, with zouglou making a comeback.

(4) Drogba is an immense star in RCI and did play a strong role in national reconciliation, though the portrayal given on the panel was a bit over the top. But he’s neither the first nor last footballer to be made a musical icon, going back to the late ’80s with Abdoulaye Traoré “Ben Badi,” the ASEC-Africa rivalry, or former national team captain Gadji Céli, who became a singer.

Further Reading

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The Mogadishu analogy

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Kwame Nkrumah today

New documents looking at British and American involvement in overthrowing Kwame Nkrumah give us pause to reflect on his legacy, and its resonances today.