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Guillaume SORO

Some friendly contributions Volume I

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Edition Edition skg –SKG November 2012 – November 2012


November 2012 Contents

Economy. .....................................................................p3

•Glympse...…................................................. p4

Politics

•The French Presidential election …..................p5 •Gambia – Ivory Coast...……………………………….....p6

Society

•Twitter – facebook………………………………………....p7 •The road of the North …....…………….................p8

Sharing

•So I'm 40....................…………………………………...p10 •Paris, my memories …......................................p10 •My children, my regrets, my delights………......p11 •Parisian reunion with Amadou GON-COULIBALY ….....................………………….....................…........p12 •Paris VII, my friends, my memories… .............p13 •My adoptive father leaves me forever. ….......p14 •My connection with Eugène Dié-Kacou and his wife Marie-Louise (in homage to Eyrane-David and Andy)……………………………………………………. .p15 •Diawala, the land of my childhood ………....... .p18

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Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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econciliation …

« In your name, elected from the people, I ask for Forgiveness, and I invite you, starting now, to go to the camps, the villages and towns, and offer forgiveness. To all those whose homes and property were burned, tell them that they must forgive! All those who have felt hurt, humiliated, forgive! All those who have seen their loved ones die, must also forgive! All those who have seen their parents’ graves desecrated, must find the strength to forgive. ».

Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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ECONOMY

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26 June

Opening the Ivory Coast to the Singaporean market

ear all,

Since my arrival in Singapore a few days ago, I have had the time to get acclimated and to take a walk around this magnificent city. In another post, I will have the time to offer you my impressions about this city, which won its independence five year after the Ivory Coast, in 1965. I had some time to meet our consul in Singapore, Mr. Edward Liu and his wife, with whom we had the opportunity to discover the cuisine of this part of the world. The Consul is so dynamic, despite the fact that I stressed that my visit was a private one, that he took it upon himself to organize some meetings for me with the private sector. So this day I met Mr. Chua Taik Him of IES (International Enterprise Singapore). We discussed economic development and the strengthening of our relations in the domain of investment. He organized a large forum for the month of August 2012 and I was able to determine that the Ivory Coast would have time to talk at this time. Once I return home, I will submit a report about our meetings to the Prime Minister so that we

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can follow up on this opportunity for our country to attract investors. After that, I visited the headquarters of the Olam Group. You will remember that this group invested more than 35 million dollars in BouakĂŠ for the construction of a cashew processing factory and in doing so created more than 2,500 jobs. We had a long discussion and they reaffirmed their interest in our country. They expect to invest in three other factories: two for cashew processing in Korhogo and Bondoukou and a cacao processing factory in San Pedro. I gave them my assurances about the stability of the Ivory Coast for the coming years. The high point of my trip will of course be my meeting with my colleague from the Singaporean Parliament, Mr. Palmer. The meeting has been planned for this Wednesday at 10:30AM local time. Obviously, we are talking about friendly relations between our two countries and especially Parliamentary Diplomacy. I also expect to invite my host to come to the Ivory Coast. It will be an opportunity to strengthen the bonds between us. My vision is to have our parliament open up to the world, and this is necessary. Our country is a large country and it deserves recognition from other nations. It is our responsibility to introduce and share this vision with others. This is the direction my audience is taking. Dear Twitter and Facebook friends, I have had the time to learn something about this country and will talk to you about it again soon. Best to All. Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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GLIMPSE

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29 June

Houphouët-Boigny: a legend in Singapour

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ear all,

Can you imagine that I was in Singapore, and discovered that their historic Leader, the founder of modern Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, wrote in his memoires that “the African leader who left the biggest impression on [me] is named Félix Houphouët-Boigny of the Ivory Coast”. How my chest swelled with pride! Lee Kuan Yew made this small island, about 662 km2 in area, into a haven of peace and modernity! His son is currently Prime Minister of Singapore! Last year, Singapore experienced an extraordinary rate of growth! In fact, our economy has experienced a rate of growth 14% of its GDP! Its budget is ten times greater than that of the Ivory Coast, whereas our country’s surface area is 500 times greater! I will tell you about the rest of my trip and what I learned from it in a future posting. Just to say that the second miracle of the Ivory Coast is still possible.

Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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may POLITICS

The French Presidential election, a lesson for us all

H

ello All,

Yesterday, like many of us from the Ivory Coast, I followed the proclamation of results of the second round of the French Presidential elections.

This did not fail to remind me of a great many things. First of all, the French people are to be congratulated. Those who went to the polls and who jubilantly anticipated the results. Here, in November 2010, the information services had informed me that electors had already sharpened their axes on the eve of the proclamation. After that, both candidates are to be congratulated. Look at the emotion and elegance with which Sarkozy acknowledged his defeat! And Hollande’s "republican salute" to Sarkozy! Here, it was the exact opposite! We would have preferred to see the adversary dead rather than living. As long as Africans do not understand that an election is like a Soccer match that can be won today and lost tomorrow, stability will be a vain word. This approach needs to be part of our conscience once and for all

P O L I T I C S

It was wonderful to see all these thousands of French follow and cheer their new PRESIDENT. For myself, I took advantage of the occasion to greet my French socialist friends and cronies: Guillaume Houzel and his wife Nadia Bellaoui with whom I shared my student political activism at AnimaFac. I remember seminars and campuses in summer that we organized in Strasbourg, and Bombanne in Gironde. Thomas Poirier, who shared my political activism at Animafac as well as the apartment on rue Valladon. I would also like to mention his wife Anne-Sophie. And finally, Olivier Pacteau, with him I share a real friendship. I can imagine their joy. Bravo to all. In the future Africa must build its Democratic destiny

Look at the Sarkozy’s elegance and emotion in the face of his defeat! And Hollande’s “republican salute” to Sarkozy !

Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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POLITICS

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27 may

« Gambia is now an ally of the Ivory Coast ».

I’ve just returned from the Gambia, where I had the honour and privilege of being invited by my colleague, Abdoulie Bojang, the President of the National Assembly of the Gambia. It was both a friendly and working visit. We had a lengthy interchange on the interparliamentary cooperation between our two countries and together we examined a few paths through which we could revitalize this cooperation. We were also received, on two different occasions, by President Yahya Jammeh, in a friendly atmosphere. And the word “friendly” is in my opinion the one that really says it all. We touched on all the questions that certainly tie our countries together, but which also has an interest for the future of Africa. From now on, we can say that the Gambia is an ally of the Ivory Coast. President Jammeh is fully committed to the revitalisation and revival of the cooperation between our two countries, to the great joy of the Ivory Coast and its President. I think that

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this was a successful mission. We should have come sooner but President Jammeh kept us back because he wanted us to join him in his home village for his birthday festivities, to really stress the strength of the ties that bind our two Countries. Among other things, he said that, between himself and us, it was a question of generations. This is how he let me know that he is seven years older than I! I was really surprised to learn that, because he has been in power for 18 years! Before taking leave of us, he informed us that he was going, that very day (Monday, 12 May) on an official visit to Mauritania. Personally, I cannot hide the joy at the honour that was done to us and the consideration that was given to us by the President of the Republic of the Gambia (we visited him twice) and by the very highest authorities from the Gambia. Of course, this honour reflected well on ourselves, but more than anything, this honour was destined for the Ivory Coast. I am not the President of the Gambia’s

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counterpart, but he treated and welcomed us like his own and his country’s guests of honour, and this reflected well on our country too. All this is no small thing and deserves to be fairly valued. There are some of us who will certainly remember that the Gambia had not acknowledged the results of the Presidential election of December 2010, and therefore, the election of President Alassane Ouattara. I had the joy of hearing President Jammeh tell me in private, but also declare in the media in his country, that we are his brothers, that the President of the Republic of the Ivory Coast is his brother and that from now on we are in harmony and synch in all matters. This is no common thing and deserves to be in the forefront. First thing tomorrow, I will report on my mission to the President of the Republic. And I will tell him about the brotherhood and friendship of the people of the Gambia with the people of the Ivory Coast. » Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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SOCIETY

Why shouldn’t I post on Twitter and Facebook ?

D

ear all,

I was very happy with the expression of friendship between us on 8 mai. I hope you will all accept my acknowledgement and my gratitude. However, today, I wish to talk to you about a conversation I had with a friend yesterday. He pointed out to me that some of this “Friends” were complaining that the President of the National Assembly was active on Tweeter [sic] and Facebook. I have noted that some friends have made this criticism in good faith. I will state my case with them. Others, in bad faith, are often moved by jealousy. I will not dignify them with a response. I shall however take the liberty of making the following reflections:

1- The use of Twitter and Facebook is FREE. Anyone who wants to use it can use it. And I have no intention of allowing myself to be dictated to about how I use my freedom. 2- - I am not the first political personality to use Facebook or Twitter. Obama, Sarkozy, Hollande, Claude Bartolone, and Hama Amadou are all active users of these networking sites. 3- I am not of the opinion that Facebookers and Twitter Followers are looking to despise me. I will not take a bite of that condescendence. 4- I’m going with the flow, and that’s a good thing. guillaumesoro.com

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Since I have started using social networking websites, I’ve become aware of the interest they represent, because [with them] there is a real interaction that enables me, in no time at all, to get all their opinions. I mean, all opinions, no exclusions, no indulgences. Opinions of the welloff, the impoverished, my adversaries, my friends’ critics, etc... Opinions that I would never have gotten from the traditional channels. Every revolution has some unknowns and some resistance. At the time when my friends Alain Lobognon and Konaté Sidiki spent several months convincing me to join Twitter and Facebook, others laughed at me and screamed at me about my supposed activism. My dear friends, this is what human nature is made of. No matter what you do, people will always talk. You must continue on your own path just the same. THANK YOU!

Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

https://twitter.com/sorokguillaume http://www.facebook.com/GuillaumeKSoro

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may SOCIETY

H

The roads of the north, a national disgrace…

ello All .

I’ve just woke up and it’s 5 in the morning. I had fallen asleep, exhausted after a long journey on bad roads. After leaving Abidjan on Wednesday mai 16, I had to make the journey from Korhogo to Diawala by car, and we had slept late. The next day, Thursday, after the funeral of the patriarch Siriki Sanogo, I walked the track leading from Diawalla to Kofiplé, my hometown. That same day (Thursday) I left Koffiplé for Bouaké, because the next day, Friday mai 17 th at 10am, I was to preside over an AGEFOP inauguration ceremony with Minister Albert Flindé (the Côte d'Ivoire Minister of technical education and vocational training). Today I would like to tell you about my trip in the north of the country, which I had not visited for several years, absorbed as I was by daily management and my duties in Abidjan.

First the roads, which were in an advanced state of decline. The Ferké-

Korhogo stretch (55.1 km), which once linked these two cities in 25 minutes, is in such a bad state that it took, despite travelling in a convoy, 50 minutes. And the road between Ferké and Ouangolo (44.5 km) is even worse! One sometimes wonders, given the state of certain stretches, if this international route we used to be so proud of was ever even asphalted. Conversely, the Ouangolo-Diawala stretch (40.1 km) is still in good condition, apart from two critical points along the route. I also walked the long, dusty 18 km. trail linking Diawala with Kofiplé. What about the journey between Korhogo and Bouaké? This comprises the Korhogo-Niakara (105 km) and Bouaké-Niakara (149 km?) stretches, and in all I travelled 469.4 km. I must admit that I could feel the weight of the road! So I found that we are in dire need of an emergency plan to renovate our roads, to say the least! I remember the slogan which went « roads lead to development ». Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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SOCIETY

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19 may

The roads of the north, a national disgrace… As night fell I immersed myself in the neighbourhoods of Diawala, seeking out the houses we had lived in to find out what had become of them, and who now lived in them. I also wanted to visit friends and family and hear their news. I should make it clear that my father was first assigned to Diawala in 1971. Our first house, next to the city’s current market, had been destroyed to make way for a road! My father was assigned to Diawala a second time in 1985, and I vividly remember the house he rented, so I headed off in search of it. Full of emotions, with my friend BAMBA driving the car that my director of protocol Soul had so swiftly procured for me, and without my bodyguards, I set off, happy to finally be free and slowly walking the lanes of Diawala ... Dear Facebook and Twitter friends, I will resume the story in my next post, one which will make you pine.

Yes I still remember very clearly the asphalting of Diawala’s main artery. It was beautiful! The city was booming! And we were happy that our village had benefited from the coveted bitumen. For us, Diawala was finally on its way. So I was sad, sitting in my car with prefect COULIBALY Sindou Ouangolo, that Wednesday May 16, 2012, when I entered the village only to see a scene of decay! I went to the accommodation I had been lent, and I was happy to return to the land that had raised me, and breathe in the air of my childhood! Indeed, it is in this sub-prefecture of Diawala that I was born on May 8, 1972. After settling in, I felt an irresistible urge to wander the streets of my village, to revisit these streets I had grown up on. I took leave of my hosts, the Prefect of Ouangolo and the sub prefect of Diawala, and requested a car, setting off without aide de camp or bodyguard. guillaumesoro.com

Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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SHARING

So, I’m 40!

June

Paris , my memories…

08

may

So I’m 40!

My friends in their 40s have told me often about this important moment in their lives. I too feverishly awaited my 40th - surely I would be a different man at this moment, which I wouldn't miss for the world. On awakening this morning I looked in the mirror only to find myself unchanged. Looking carefully I noticed a tuft of white hair on my head. My hair is going grey! Is this a sign of the passing of time? In the end I stayed at home and was able to reflect on my 40 years peacefully. I want to make a real appraisal of my life, remembering my late parents, my father Soro Clement and my mother Sanogo Minata, who brought me into this world. My only regret is that they left this world before I was able to do anything for them. I often ask myself whether my parents would be proud of me, of my journey, if they were still alive. Sadly there can be no answer to this. This being said I have to live for my family and do the best I can. Thanks to all my followers, friends and collaborators who have taken the time to wish me a happy birthday. I would particularly like to thank the President of the Republic Alassane Ouattara and his wife Dominique who called me yesterday from Paris to wish me a happy 40 th. Many thanks to all

D

ear All,

I'm on Air France flight AF703, and in a few minutes we will have landed at Charles de Gaulle airport. I’m returning to Paris for the first time since a very brief visit from Brussels in August 2010, when I just had time to see some friends before heading to Abidjan. I remember that the responsibility and work that awaited me in Abidjan were by no means easy, and on the evidence quite the opposite: the organization of the first round of the Presidential Elections of 31 November 2010. You know the rest; it was a painful episode in my life. The election threw the country into one of the deadliest crises in our history ... Memories come flooding back, but for the moment it‘s time to savor the Paris air, find the time to relax a bit and thus escape the daily pressures of my responsibilities in Abidjan ... Oops, we’ve just landed! It’s 5:40 on the dot. The stewardess with her sweet voice conveys important information. It is 14 degrees and we have landed 20 minutes early. Fortunately I do not like delays. I have promised to keep in touch on social networks. Kind regards, Dear All.

Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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My children, my regrets, my delights …

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June

ello All.

Today I want to pay tribute to women.Yesterday, Sunday, June 10, I decided to spend my day looking after my children, after making a decision to make myself more available to them, to devote more time. I know that I’ve missed a lot because of my long absences. Unfortunately my children have grown up far away from me, not even having a father to take them to school and meet them at the school gates. I feel guilty about this, and I want to make up for lost time.

I want to tell them that I love them, even if they do not see me every day, and that it is only my duty and daily responsibilities that prevent me from doing this. So, at 10am I suggested a visit to the Jardin d’acclimatation, an amusement park in Paris. “Yay!” they all cry in unison. They are happy and it's nice to see them like this. I want to be, and I must be, a good father. So, it’s off to the Bois de Boulogne. We are happy. The children of today are not like those of yesteryear; they are prolific, they talk about everything and ask many questions. At the age of 6, they already love going to school, something which would have been sacrilege in my day! They speak without embarrassment, they tell me about their loves, and I listen in amazement! We arrive at the park and it is swarming with people. Right away my children are off – the race has begun! I run left and right to catch the youngest, lest they hurt themselves. The largest, Marcel, is arguing with his sister Leslie. They cannot agree on the game, so I act as referee. The youngest wants to pee

Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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My children, my regrets, my delights …

June

I need to find the toilet quickly. As soon as we come out, my daughter Leslie cries that she is hungry and wants some ice cream. Off I run. Barely am I back before my youngest, Loïc, starts loudly crying and screaming and I have to console him, by which I mean I have to carry him my shoulders. Olivier also wants me to carry him, so I promise to carry them in turn My poor neck! How I suffer! The day is long and I can't wait for it to end. But we have to have lunch. The meal is a shambles; we place the order and are served immediately, but the crying and tears start again. One isn‘t satisfied with their meal and is demanding the other’s plate. They all want to sit on my lap, so I have to use all my skills. Things get complicated and lunch passes amidst an unbelievable ruckus. Of course, everyone’s clothes are filthy, and the bad weather doesn't help, or the fact that we had forgotten to take umbrellas. We sprint to the car parked opposite the restaurant, and here everyone starts up again, all wanting to drive the car without a license. I have to beg them to let me drive, and then everyone wants to be the co-driver! Again, I have to ask them to sit still, and finally we make it home. It's 7pm, I'm exhausted, I ache, I have a headache. That night, without taking a sleeping pill, I go to bed at 20h, not even having time to tweet.

Just one day and I’m shattered! Horizontal in my bed, I think about my day with my children and that women are brave! I realize what their day to day lives are like running after children. It’s not so simple; I appreciate that. I want to take this chance to salute all women who devote their lives to our education. They who, in an endless race, have to watch over and monitor us (their children). It's a job; it's definitely not rest. They deserve our RESPECT. Guillaume Kigbafori SORO S H A R I N G

Parisian reunion with Amadou GONCOULIBALY

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June

ear All.

A peaceful family Sunday in Paris. Yesterday I took the opportunity to make a friendly and fraternal visit to Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Minister of State and the Secretary General of the Presidency, who I found in good shape. We had a long conversation and chatted, discussing all the current issues facing the country. We were pleased and happy to see each other after such a long time. Thanks to everyone – have a good rest. Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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Paris VII, my friends, my memories…

H

June

ello everyone

Lately, I've been a little busy with some business. For example, I’ve been preparing for the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie, held in July in Brussels. This meeting is important because it is an opportunity for our National Assembly to reinstate the authority that is so important for our Parliamentary diplomacy. I am also closing following the French legislative elections. I have made a few contacts that will certainly be useful. I have also had the opportunity to immerse myself in the city of Paris, which I know pretty well because I did part of my studies here. I had the opportunity to tour the Rue Recamier where the League of Education is located along with the Animafac Association headquarters where I had many a lively debate. All those memories of my life as a student in Paris came rushing back to me. I had to combine odd jobs and studying, which wasn’t easy. Fortunately, at that time, the French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin had launched an ambitious youth employment and studies program. What a godsend for us! I lived at number 11 rue Valladon and I took the subway at Ecole Militaire to go to the University of Paris VII Jussieu in the mornings and then the Animafac offices in the afternoon.

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Sometimes I did some odd jobs for the Human Rights League. This allowed me to earn a good amount of pocket money. I had three friends who really shaped me during that period. First are Guillaume Houzel and his wife, Nadia Bellaoui. Both helped me and welcomed me to Paris. I stayed with them for a while. They helped me register at the university and find odd jobs. Next is Thomas Poirier, who was my roommate in Rue Valladon. We lived together like brothers and we have truly become family. Thomas is better than me at telling the stories that shaped our time as students in Paris. Our nightly excursions, etc... I'm glad they are all still faithful and loyal friends. They supported me during my struggles, have helped me establish contacts and have always been by my side. Now, each of us has taken our own path. Guillaume Houzel and Nadia got married and have a beautiful daughter. Thomas Poirier married Anne-Sophie and they have two lovely twins. That’s life. I still travel the streets of Paris, remembering an innocent but intense period of my life. My best regards. Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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My adoptive father leaves me forever

As fate would have it, my cousin Sanogo lost his father yesterday at 4 am UTC. I called him "old man" but his real name was Siriki Sanogo and he had recently been hospitalized at the PISAM. We thought the end was near but we couldn’t help secretly hoping that he’d get better. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be! Let me tell you a story about my time with this surrogate father that I loved as if he were my own. As a matter of fact, old Siriki Sanogo was the friend of my late father. They knew each other very well and both spent a lot of time in the small town of Diawala, in the north of the Ivory Coast, where my father worked at the Ivorian Company for Textile Development (CIDT). Their friendship was so strong that when I stayed at the small Katiola Seminary in Diawala (as a guest) during the holidays, my father always asked me to go say hello to his old friend Siriki. guillaumesoro.com

mai

So I went to his old house and I had long conversations with him. Even though I was very young then, the old man spoke frankly about the mysteries of life. Sometimes other people came to visit him while I was there and he introduced me as “Clément’s son (that was my late father’s name)… and basically my own too.” Truth be told, old Siriki was really an old sage. He always amazed me with his knowledge of nature and life, especially since he had never gone to school. He knew the beneficial properties of all the plants and had so much life experience, which he happily shared with you with a few well-chosen proverbs. My father loved his company. To tell you the truth, I don’t know how my father met old Siriki’s son. But I would imagine that my father grew fond of his friend’s youngest when he went to see his father. In any case, he decided to adopt him and he became my brother. My father was like that. If he saw something to do, he did it. He loved children and he loved to adopt them! Odd at the time, my father was the ideal guardian for all those children who needed to go to school and didn’t have a place to live.

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In fact, my older sister Martine is the daughter of his Douane friends and my younger sister Estelle Yao and her little brother Angenor Yao are the children of one of his CIDT colleagues, which I now run as my father’s heir. For me, nothing has changed. And my brothers and sisters make me realize this. Many of my relatives have never understood the relationship between Sanogo Lamine and me. The truth is that I always thought of him as a younger brother. The death of Old Siriki Sanogo is a grievous loss to me! I want to honour him because he helped me tremendously. I’d like to quote another wise old man: "In Africa, an old man who dies is like a burning library." For those of you who knew him, the funeral arrangements are as follows. The wake is Wednesday, 16 May 2012 at Ivosep Treichvillle with burial to be followed on Thursday, 17 May at 10 am in the town of Diawalla. The 7th day mass will be on Friday, 18 May 2012. Farewell old man. Your son.

Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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SHARING

My connection with Eugène Dié-Kacou and his wife Marie-Louise (in homage to EyraneDavid and Andy)

27 Jun e

In my head, I had it all worked out. I knew I couldn’t get away from the police. I decided to hide as quickly as possible in the next place possible. And fate did the rest. I ended up at the home of Mom Marie-Louise by chance. She recognized me immediately and had me go back to my room to hide. As I caught my breath, she brought me something to drink and eat. It wasn’t prayer that saved me that day.

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Yesterday, in my memoriam, I said how close I was with one of the families of the two children who disappeared (Eyrane-David and Andy, who went missing in Gironde, France). A lot of people have been surprised. Actually, I was very close to Ms. Marie-Louise Sylva, who became Mrs. Dié Kacou when she married but I always affectionately called her Mom. Our relationship dates back to when I was still a student and a leader in my glory days at the Student and Academic Federation of the Ivory Coast. Mom Marie Louise lives in Cocody, near the University of Mermoz campus, and worked at RTI. Everyone at Cocody Mermoz knew her: one time, when I ran Fesci, the authorities often tried to shut down the information meetings that I was personally running. This was in violation of university policy. It inevitably led the police chasing us through the neighbourhood. While some residents were quick to report us and turn us over to the police, Mom Marie-Louise helped us hide. One day, the police crackdown was particularly harsh and fierce. Obviously, there were clear orders to arrest me. I won’t lie. I wrapped my legs so I could run as fast I could but my pursuers clearly didn’t have any intention of letting me get away.

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My connection with Eugène Dié-Kacou and his wife Marie-Louise (in homage to EyraneDavid and Andy)

27 Jun e

So I escaped and went on the lamb. I also remember my uncle Eugène Dié-Kacou who knew all about my activities but never reported me. Just a quick digression… At the time, Eugène Dié-Kacou hosted a famous 5x3 television show. I’m sure Ivoirians will remember. During a particularly critical moment with the authorities when I had to live in hiding, Eugène Dié-Kacou had the brave idea of interviewing me. It was a risky bet for at least two reasons: 1- His bosses couldn’t have thought it was a good idea to give a platform to Guillaume Soro, the General Secretary of FSCI on the RTI airwaves when the university was at the boiling point. 2- I was also suspicious! Is this a trick or a trap to get me out of my liar so they can arrest me? Should I trust an ambitious journalist who was trying to grow him career? Auntie Marie assured me that this wasn’t a trap and we set up the meeting! The game wasn’t so easy for Eugène Kacou. Yes, there are strict rules to being on the run. I told him to take a lot of detours and posted some of my men at strategic locations to make sure that he wasn’t unwittingly followed by the police. With the reassurances of my surveillance agents, I popped up when he least expected it. We did the interview. He agreed to broadcast it in full without any censuring. Unfortunately, we didn’t count on the reactionary position of some of the then managers at RTI, who did everything they could to avoid airing this interview to Eugène’s great dismai. Following this event, he honourably decided to but a term on the 5x3 emission. I want to take a minute to salute his professionalism and his sense of honour. We grew close over this incident and, since then, we have remained fast friends.

Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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SHARING

My connection with Eugène Dié-Kacou and his wife Marie-Louise (in homage to Eyrane-David and Andy)

A decade later, I was again in the political arena as the Prime Minister. I had hosted the National Press Council many times during my term, which Eugène Dié-Kacou now managed. He would come into my office and greet me with respect in his strong voice, “Your Excellency, Mr. Prime Minister!” I was very embarrassed and I immediately responded, “No, not that. Don’t call me your Excellency! I’m your son.” He flat out refused. “You are the Prime Minister of the Ivory Coast. Even if you are my son, you are my Prime Minister.” In fact, he and I have never seen eye-to-eye on the matter.

Yesterday, when I was on the phone with him to offer my condolences for the tragic death of Evrane and Andy, he still called me, “Your Excellency, the President of the National Assembly!” God love Eugène! To go back to this sad incident briefly, let’s say that the young Eyrane Sylva who had found the body is the daughter-in-law of Aunt Marie-Louise. Auntie Marie-Louise had several children, including Kouassi Alain Sylva (who lost her son and Ms. Grengeon Tania Sylva, whose daughter Kiara is my god daughter. I was a witness at her baptism. It was at the Saint Ambroise Church. That’s the story of how I met Auntie Marie-Louise, Eugène Dié-Kacou and the entire family that grief has struck so cruelly right now. I hope they know how much I love and support them.

Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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SHARING

Diawala, the land of my childhood

20 may

H

ello everyone,

As I promised, here is the rest of my trip to Diawala… I slowly travel the streets of Diawala. I turn off the vehicle’s air conditioning and I roll down the windows. I breathe in the fresh, clean air that permeated the vehicle and pleasantly caressed our faces. I am so excited. I can’t believe it. There are only two of us in the car and I’m not surrounded by a gaggle of bodyguards. I am free without any worry for my safety in the village that I love. I am lulled by the memories of my childhood, which soon overtake me. It’s incredible! The human brain is a formidable machine! How can it store and keep so much old information from thirty-eight years of memories? You see, I perfectly remember everything from since I was two! I’m going to tell you an anecdote from when I was just three years old in 1975. It was hard to find someone who spoke French in our village at the time! Only a few agents had this privilege. My father and my mother, who had gone to school, spoke French at home. Kid that I was, I uttered a few words of this language to the great amazement of the other villagers. Obviously, I was very proud of this. One day, when I was playing with the kids in the village, a CM2 student who was a neighbour, passed by. Seeing me, he asked me, “Guillaume, where are you going? And I answered, with ease, “I are you going home.” That made the whole courtyard laugh. My mother teased me for a long time. Anyway, Bamba and I are in the vehicle and we are headed toward the house where we lived in 1985. It’s 7:30 pm and it’s already dark out. I take a road overrun by weeds and we’re here. No one is expecting me, especially at the wheel of my car. So I enter the courtyard on tiptoe. Our house is still there. I see a man who is probably the owner, struggling with his motorcycle. He sees me, stunned, and starts shouting, “It’s Guillaume Soro! Guillaume Soro is here!” So he recognized me. A group quickly forms around us. I calmly ask for a chair and I tell them without a care in the world that I have came to retrace the footsteps of my adolescence. My audience is enthralled.

Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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SHARING

Diawala, the land of my childhood

They don’t understand but they are happy, you can see it on their faces. Everyone tells a story about my father or my mother. We are happy, like in the good old days. Then it’s time for me to leave. I say goodbye to my hosts, still shocked by my surprise visit. I’m happy. It was good to see all these people again, the people who shared my childhood. I noticed that they had aged, certainly because of the weight of the years but also, or perhaps particularly, because of their hard life as farmers in this arid savannah.

20 may

I remember the life of a farmer. My father, once he moved to Diawala, had land. He told us (my brothers and myself) all the time that people who didn’t finish their studies worked with the daba. During our holidays, my brothers and I worked in the fields. It was required. My father wanted to instil a strict education in us. We were not allowed to go out at night. To tell the truth, I never liked working the fields. But I did it willingly because sometimes it meant that I could go out with my friends at night. My Kpayerigué brothers, Simon and me woke up early in the morning and we headed to the fields on foot, walking a dozen kilometres. With our dabas, we weeded this field that stretched far beyond the eye could see. At noon, my mother joined us with our midday meal. The hard physical labour was tiring. I have to tell the truth: my Kpayerigué brothers and Simon were better labourers than me. I hated to work all day. Then my mother told me that I had to take my studies seriously if I wanted to avoid working in the fields. Since I have already decided to tell you the truth and because I know that my brothers will definitely read this post, I have to be totally honest. I think my brothers loved me a lot. They divided up the work to make up the slack for me. When we got to the fields, they did the work while I walked around and climbed the trees. Sometimes, to help them go faster and finish the work, I tried to make it a competition for them. Who’ll win? Who’ll be the first? And Kpayerigué and Simon got their second wind. Since I knew my mother was coming, I rushed to pick up a daba and I joined my brothers! They never told on me. We grew up protecting each other. Today, Kpayerigué is in Douane and Simon is in the US, studying for his PhD in Atlanta.

Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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SHARING

Diawala, the land of my childhood

20 may

When they read this passage, it will be a testimony of my affection for them. But let’s close this parenthesis. On the road for the Kafongo-Marché neighbourhood. This time, I’m travelling with Sanogo Lamine and Bamba Vamadou. First, I greet the father of my classmate Youssouf Sikobeh in old Sikobeh’s courtyard. His son and I had run the streets of Diawala. His father and mother are so happy to see me! They are visibly jubilant. I chat with them. We talk about old times. At the time, we all admired Youssouf’s father’s mango grove. He didn’t make his sons work the fields. Youssouf got out of it. He spent the day in the village and my friend Kiyali and I were jealous of him. Destination: our second home in the Kafongo-hospital neighbourhood. We arrive. It all seems calm. All the locals are indoors. I enter the courtyard. I run into some very young children ! They jump with joy and surprise. I tell them that I lived in this courtyard. One of them runs to wake up his father who comes right out. He remembers me and my family. He is visibly surprised. He stutters and gives me his blessings. I don’t stay long. I thank them and continue on. I decide to go say hello to my friend Kiyali’s mother. Ouattara Kiyali is a friend. His father and mine were colleagues. They both worked at the CIDT in Diawala and, more than anything, he is Niarafolo, just like me. That means that our relationship was more like brothers. Our families visited each other regularly. Kiyali, Youssouf Sikobeh and I were a real band of friends. We were always together. We organized some great parties together during the good old days. And they were always happy times… (Dear Facebook and Twitter followers, this post will be continued soon) Guillaume Kigbafori SORO

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Credits The images from Paris have been taken from Google Maps and Wikipedia.

B

orn on 8 mai 1972 in Kofiplé (a sub-prefecture of Diawala) in the department of Ferkessedougou,

Kigbafori Soro is the 6th president of the National Assembly of the Ivory Coast. Father of four children, he is married to Sylvie Tagro, who has been his companion since his days as a student.

After his resignation from the Primature, he was elected to the Perchoir on 12 March 2012 with 94.77% of the vote. Then he became the President of the Second Legislature of the Second Republic. During his political career, Guillaume Kigbafori Soro survived six assassination attempts. The two most serious are certainly the ambush outside of the Radiodiffusion Télévision Invoirienne (RTI) on 27 June 2003 as well as the attack against the Fokker 100 that was transporting him on 29 June 2009. Under the pretext of inviting him to visit the facilities, the General Management at the RTI had 300 armed young patriots surround the infirmary at the broadcasting network. They were getting ready to burn down the building with him in it when he narrowly escaped. In Bouaké, as the plane he was on was landing, several heavy military rockets and blasts were fired at him. Four members of his team died and several others were injured. For Guillaume Kigbafori Soro, the destiny of men is not decided by God. Knowledge is finding a path to your destiny and accepting life’s fortunes and challenges.

Some friendly contributions  

Some friendly contributions - english version

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