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Côte d’Ivoire: The heirs of family-style politics

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“Say, aren’t you [insert household name]’s son or daughter?” Since Côte d’Ivoire’s 1960 independence movement (and perhaps farther back than that), these names have been a part of Ivorian history: Yacé in Jacqueville; Ekra in Bonoua; Ouégnin in Moossou, and so on.

Almost every region of Côte d’Ivoire has its own ‘extended family’, which has been at the heart of the strategy of the first Ivorian president, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, to consolidate his power: by weaving an oligarchic patchwork around him in order create a great Ivorian bourgeoisie.

These dynasties have been in place for more than six decades, gradually building up considerable wealth. “These names are familiar to everyone because they have been in Côte d’Ivoire’s school textbooks for years,” says Sylvain N’Guessan, a political analyst.

As children, their heirs rubbed shoulders with Houphouët-Boigny’s barons, and even with

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