News

This Rap News Webcast Is Keeping It Real By Using Ivorian Street Slang

Two Ivorian rappers, Nash and Smile, host Journal Gbayé in Nouchi, the street dialect of Abidjan.

Image courtesy of Journal Gbayé.


“Au port ya un vrai championnat: l’argent de dédoua même, ça met drap sur prizo de ton djoho!”

“In Abidjan, when you want to import your car, the bribes you pay to the custom officer are so high you could buy a new one instead!”

The Ivorian rapper, Nash, is decrying the daily corruption that’s part of life in Abidjan on her YouTube series. Unlike other shows, this newscast is presented entirely in rap verses. Welcome to the first episode of Journal Gbayé, a news show proving popular among Ivorian youth. With only 25 episodes, it has more than 3,000 subscribers on YouTube, who come for its mix of comedy and daily news delivered as an extended hip-hop track.

Nash delivers the news in Nouchi, a slangy Ivorian street dialect that has exploded in popularity in recent years and is finding converts from across the French-speaking world.

Its method of delivery is a lively creole of indigenous and European dialect that, while popular with young Ivorians, hasn't entered mainstream broadcasting yet. Despite its lack of official recognition, Nouchi has long been a way for working class Ivorians to express themselves. Lately, it’s spread across Ivorian pop culture, helping to bridge the gap between classes.

In 2013, Xuman, a Senegalese artist and social activist created a rapped TV segment on 2STV, a Senegalese TV channel, using both of Senegal’s official languages, Wolof and French.

By delivering the news as an extended rap-song in two languages, Xuman brought a unique point of view and humor to news broadcasting that helped young people relate more to the issues around them. Following its success, Xuman decided to export it to Ivory Coast and contacted Nash, one of the most popular Ivorian rappers known for her deft use of Nouchi in her rhymes.

“Xuman, wanted to bring a specific Ivorian touch to the news segment by using Nouchi,” Nash explains. “He thought about me, since I’m putting Nouchi on the forefront with my music.

Nash then brought rapper Smile on board as a co-host to rap in French so that people who don’t understand Nouchi would still get the gist of the stories. “We want everyone to understand the news segment,” Nash says.

Nouchi appeared in Abidjan, Ivory Coast at the end of the 70s. The word Nouchi comes from the Manding word nou (nostrils) and chi (hairs) or “nose hairs,” a nickname for street kids in Ivory Coast. It is a mix of French and other languages spoken in Ivory Coast such as Dioula, Baoulé and Guéré.

Nouchi is a melting pot of sayings and accents, borrowing words from foreign languages like Spanish or English. For example, the word s’enjailler or "having fun," comes from the "enjoy" in English. The language is constantly changing, with new words appearing every day. The Nouchi spoken by Magic System, a popular Ivorian hip-hop group, in 2000 is completely different from the Nouchi spoken today.

“Speaking it is part of my daily life,” Nash says. “I'm an Ivorian girl from the ghetto in Yopougon, a neighborhood in Abidjan where most people speak Nouchi. I had it rough growing up. My family had barely any money.”

Nouchi Glossary:

Y’a pas drap – It’s all right

Tu te fais yèrè – You’re getting duped

Gué dans gué – Give and take

Les zigehis – The thugs

Tchieu way! – Really!

Initially, Priss'K, one of the first female Ivorian rappers, inspired Nash to rap in French.

“When I started rapping I would send my mixtapes to producers," she says. "I was rapping in French at first and it became obvious that I wasn't a French rapper and I wouldn't pretend to rap like one, so why use the language?”

For Nash, Nouchi is much closer to her as a language than French.

“Many young people are not educated and don't understand French that well," she says. "But Nouchi is the language of people from the ghetto. They speak it, understand it, and I can convey my message directly to them.”

 

Image courtesy of Journal Gbayé.

“In Ivory Coast people tend to see female rappers as an anomaly,” Nash says. “I had to fight to get my music heard and reach an audience."

“In my songs, I tackle subjects that kids, young girls from disadvantaged areas can relate to. I sing about our daily lives, politics, but also about love, hope and peace. It’s important that they hear that they can get out of there, fight to improve their lives."

Over the last decade, Nouchi went from being the language of the misfits and rascals to gaining mainstream appeal. The success of Ivorian music in Europe, like Coupé-Décalé and Zouglou, and artists like Alpha Blondy or Tiken Jah Fakoly, put Nouchi in the spotlight.

The way Nouchi is used in Francophone countries has many parallels with Sheng, the ever evolving Swahili street dialect of Nairobi, Kenya. Nouchi has become trendy through popular culture, music and newspapers like Gbich, a satirical Ivorian newspaper. People from western Francophone countries, use it as well, sometimes without knowing the specific codes. It’s not rare nowadays to see young people especially in France, using Nouchi words they heard through Ivorian music, like toi meme tu sais for “you know it” and la go for "the girl."

While charges of cultural appropriation come easy, Nash is optimistic. “It’s a good thing to see non-Ivorians in Western countries use it, as long as they know the history of the language and use it correctly,” Nash says.

Will it overtake French in Ivory Coast? Some politicians have used it to try and boost their street cred. Academics, like Rémi Yao, have started researching the language. If anything, Nouchi is a way to reclaim the many languages spoken in Ivory Coast other than French, the official language, imposed by French colonizers centuries ago. Nouchi is popular among the youth not because it’s new, but because it is a way of reclaiming original cultures.

“Nouchi is a great example of how rich and diverse the Ivorian culture is,” Nash explains, who regularly travels to Switzerland to promote the language. "But it is important," she adds, "that Nouchi remains the language of the youth from the ghetto.”

Image courtesy of Journal Gbayé.

The future of Journal Gbayé is bright. The second season is on its way and they are going to add more comedians and rappers to the show, as well as a few guests. They’ve picked up some funding from Open Society or OSIWA, an international organization helping young Africans to fund their projects.

“We’ve also planned to shoot in front of a live audience on the streets," Nash says.

The RTI, Ivory Coast’s main TV channel, showed some interest in broadcasting the show, “but we haven’t heard from them,” Nash says. “Ideally, we want Journal Gbayé to be available online and on TV to reach people who don’t have access to the internet.”

Through rapped news segment, Francophone African countries have found a way to bring the news to people who may not have easy access. By using French and Nouchi, Journal Gbayé and its imitators, are celebrating cultures that have long been marginalized.

Will this phenomenon expand to more countries? “I hope so," Nash says.

A Mauritanian rapped news segment entitled Chi-Taari rappé launched this year .

Check out this recent episode of Journal Gbayé with bars for days:

News

The Ethiopian Government Has Asked Olympic Runner In Exile, Feyisa Lilesa, to Return Home

After two years in exile, the Olympic athlete will return home and receive a "hero's welcome."

Feyisa Lilesa, the Ethiopian runner who went into exile in 2016 after bravely protesting the Ethiopian government's brutal treatment of its Oromo population at the Rio Olympics, has been invited to return to home.

After living in self-imposed exile United States for two years the marathoner, who demonstrated by crossing his fists as he reached the finish line and claimed the silver medal, has been extended an offer to return to his homeland and compete for his country once again by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation and the country's Olympic committee. According to VOA News, the runner will return home in the coming weeks with his wife and children.

"Athlete Feyisa Lilesa has scored great results at the Rio Olympics and other athletics competitions enabling Ethiopia's flag to be hoisted to great heights," read a joint letter from the two athletics organizations.

"We want Lilesa to return to his home country to resume his athletics competition and upon his return we are prepared to give him a hero's welcome."

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Image via GovernmentZA's Flickr.

Could Justice Finally Be on the Horizon for Marikana Massacre Families?

New evidence suggests that the police intended to kill all along.

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the Marikana Massacre, when 34 mine-workers were gunned down by police after several days of wage disputes at Lonmin Mine in Rustenburg, North West province. New information was recently uncovered that undermines the police's longstanding claim that they acted in self-defence. If anything, it is a glimmer of hope for the families of the victims that remain left behind in the aftermath of that tragedy.

It was the worst mass civilian killing since the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, where South African protesters were killed for opposing the Apartheid regime. The Marikana Massacre, in contrast, was the tragic consequence of week-long wage disputes and clashes between miners and the South African police.

While media footage appears to show the miners as the victims, police have always argued that they were acting in self defence. Consequently no officers involved have been charged. Instead, the surviving mineworkers face murder charges under the doctrine of common purpose. But unnerving facts have come to light that seem to make the police argument even less likely. This includes the ordering of 4000 rounds of live ammunition and several vans from the mortuary the day before the massacre.

I cannot even begin to unpack my anger and frustration at this terrible irony.

Keep reading... Show less
popular

Remembering Aretha Franklin and Her Heartfelt Connection With Nelson Mandela

In honor of the Queen of Soul's immeasurable impact, we revisit her passionate support of Nelson Mandela, and the anti-apartheid movement, through her musical tributes.

Iconic singer, Aretha Franklin, the "Queen of Soul" passed away on Thursday after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76.

Franklin was considered by many to be the greatest singer of all time. Her influence on popular music cannot be overstated. The legendary artist sold 75 million records and earned 18 Grammys in a career spanning six decades and she was influential in many global social movements as well.

Having been a widely-embraced public figure for so long, Franklin was present for some of the biggest events of the 20th century, including the funeral of Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990.

Upon Mandela's release, the singer played a unique role in welcoming him to the States by performing at a freedom rally in his honor in Detroit. Rosa Parks, Jesse Jackson and Stevie Wonder were also in attendance for the historic night. During the celebration, Franklin called the anti-apartheid leader on stage, where he spoke about listening to and appreciating "the Detroit, Motown Sound" while he was in prison.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.