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At Fnac in Abidjan, the first 150 copies of the comic went like hotcakes as soon as it was released on Wednesday 14th September. Many readers were looking forward to to discover the new adventures of “beautiful Aya”, young Ivorian from the popular commune of Yopougn. The comic “to 800,000 readers”, whose saga was published by Gallimard from 2005 to 2010, translated into fifteen languages and even adapted into an animated film in 2013, has not lost any of its popularity.
In this highly anticipated seventh volume ofAya of Yopougon (the previous one dates back twelve years!), Marguerite Abouet in pen and Clément Oubrerie in pencil reconnect with everything that made the series charm and success: line, tone, sensibility, humor and nouchi, the Ivorian slang. Without forgetting the palette of colorful characters that draw a human and living landscape of Yopougon, and more broadly of the Ivory Coast.
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This time, we are in 1981, in the last years of the “Ivorian miracle”, a period of strong economic development thanks in particular to the production and export of cocoa. The iconic characters have grown up a bit, the younger ones have more responsibilities. Yopougon’s three friends now lead very different lives. Aya dropped out of med school by right, Bintou aka “Flora” is an unloved TV actress, while Adjoua juggles her maquis with Bobby, her son born into lies and misunderstandings at the beginning of the adventures of Governess. Innocent says “Inno”, Aya’s best friend, is still in France and tries to get ahead, without papers, in a country where being homosexual and black is still not so easy.
Marguerite Abouet humorously transcribes the often comical adventures of everyday life in Abidjan, the relationship with money, alcohol, traditions. She explores the issues of Ivorian society that are sometimes taboo. The first volumes of her dealt in particular with the questions of abortion, infidelity, polygamy and homosexuality. This last topic is dealt with extensively in this new volume, as well as precarious housing in Ivorian universities and the rights of students, of which Aya wants to be a defender.
If Aya’s adventures take place between the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s, most of the topics covered are still highly topical in Côte d’Ivoire. Despite promises to expand and renovate residence halls, many students still sleep in lecture halls or outside of classrooms.
“I was looking forward to it”
For Laure Gnagbé Blédou, editorial and marketing director of Bayard Afrique, Marguerite Abouet’s tour de force is to immerse the reader, wherever they come from, in the Ivory Coast of yesterday and today. ” Within Ayah, the problems and stories of the characters are universal, although the setting and references are from the Ivory Coastshe points out. While people here are used to immersing themselves in American and European stories, it’s interesting to see that it can work on both sides. »
A week after the release of the comic strip, the Des Livres pour tous libraries, founded by Marguerite Abouet in various municipalities of Abidjan, also offer the latest volume. “I was looking forward to it and it is very good. Aya has grown up, she has more responsibilities, more challenges.observes Sonia Arruda Touré, head of the association. As usual, the author recounts the concerns of the time, the situation of women, student demands… Her commitment has not changed. » The 112 pages devour each other and will inevitably call for others in view of the twists and turns that mark this new part.