Posted by: koolwine | February 25, 2012

Cote D’Ivoire: Aya

Aya by Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie book coverEveryone in Abijan is partying except for studious Aya.

Country Focus: Cote d’Ivoire

By Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie
Translated by Helge Dascher; Preface by Alisia Grace Chase, PhD
Originally published in France as Aya de Yopuogon by Gallimard Jeunesse, 2005.
My edition: Drawn & Quarterly, 2007.
96 pgs.

Acclaim: winner of the 2006 award for Best First Album at the Angoulême International Comics Festival


Genre: Fiction/Graphic Novel
Time period:

To make a long story short: Aya plans to be doctor and chooses to study rather than party with her best friends Bintou and Adjoua.   Bintou and Adjoua are both attracted to Moussa, the son of Aya’s father’s boss, but there’s an even better looking guy, Mamadou, who keeps coming around.  After being caught grinding with Adjoua’s father, Bintou is placed under the (not-so) watchful eye of her distant relative Hervé, who is more interested in staring at Aya.  Aya reluctantly goes out on a date with him so that Bintou can sneak away to see Moussa.  Meanwhile, Adjoua has been meeting a mystery man late at night at the “Thousand-Star Hotel” and becomes pregnant.  Everyone assumes Moussa is the father, but the baby doesn’t look like him…


Back home, we have a saying that goes: “You can always tell a woman by her pagne.”
A pagne (pa-nye) is a piece of brightly colored, wax-printed cloth.  Every pattern has a meaning, so you need to watch what you wear.  For example, now that I’m a respectable married woman, I would choose “capable husband” or “sorry, taken.”
-Bintou, who is single and looking for love, might choose “free as a bird” or “you don’t know what you’re missing.”
-Aya, who is single and prefers to keep men at a distance, would choose “watch my bite” or “go play somewhere else.”
A jealous or possessive woman would wear a pagne that says, “my enemy is watching” or “your foot, my foot, it you go out, I’ll go out too” – a clear message that she intends to keep a close eye on her husband.
A pagne can be sewn into a skirt, a dress or a pair of pants.  You can also take a smaller piece of pagne and wrap it around your head.  Very classy!

Marguerite Abouet

Marguerite Abouet

The author: Marguerite Abouet got to experience the country’s glory days, when the capital city of Abijan was nicknamed the  “The Paris of the West.”  Abouet was born in Abijan in 1971 and lived there until she was twelve.  She recalls this exhuberant and promising period of Cote d’Ivorian history in her series of graphic novels: Aya; Aya of Yop City; Aya: The Secrets Come Out; and Aya: Life in Yop City.


Overall Rating:
(On a scale of 1-5, with 1 book = turned off and  5 books = lit up)


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