AfricaCôte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)Figures

Félix Houphouët-Boigny, first president of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

Félix Houphouët-Boigny (was born Dia Houphouët on October 18, 1905 in N’Gokro (in the city of Yamoussoukro) according to his official biography – died on December 7, 1993), nicknamed “the sage” or even “Nanan Boigny” or “Nanan Houphouët” or even “Le Vieux” (meaning “the old” in french) is the “father” of the independence of Côte d’Ivoire.

Successively traditional leader, doctor, planter, trade union leader, deputy in France, minister in many French governments, president of the Ivorian National Assembly, mayor of Abidjan, Ivorian prime minister and first president of Côte d’Ivoire from 1960 to 1993, Félix Houphouët-Boigny plays a leading role in the process of decolonization of Africa, and dominates until the end of his life, the political scene in his native country.

A supporter of “Françafrique”, he succeeded in this way in developing the Ivory Coast economically, particularly in the agricultural sector, making his country an island of prosperity in a continent undermined by poverty; we then speak of an “Ivorian miracle”. But if the export of cocoa and coffee made the wealth of the Ivory Coast, it also caused difficulties in the 1980s, after the sharp fall in commodity prices. From then on, his regime dominated since independence by a single party, the PDCI, undermined by endemic corruption, became more and more unbearable for the population hit hard by the economic crisis.

However, this cooperation with France does not stop at the economic level alone. Relying on the networks of French influence in Africa of Jacques Foccart, close to General de Gaulle, he pursues a policy which translates into unconditional and mutual support from the two countries. This position allows France to keep, between the influences of the United States and the Soviet Union, control of its “backyard” during the Cold War. In exchange, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, the man of France in Africa, carved out a special place for himself on the African scene, especially in French-speaking Africa and in the Gulf of Guinea, where his influence was great. His fortune was estimated to be between $ 7 billion and $ 11 billion.

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