Ivory Coast has been on the verge of civil war on many occasions. Violence, brutality and force has been witnessed on the streets in some of the country’s biggest cities and towns. When a country is tested, lives are at risk and the future is blurry, that is when heroes are needed the most. Leaders who can calm the situation down and pave a way for more critical thinking can prove to be more lethal than snipers when it comes to finding solutions.
In a country such as Ivory Coast, we see raw talented musicians rising up and impacting human lives through their music. The Magic System is a band of 4 singers born in Abidjan. The band members, Salif “Asalfo” Traore, Narcisse “Goude” Sadoua, Etienne “Tino” Boue Bi and Adama “Manadja “ Fanny, have proven to be more than just musical geniuses. The quarter first met in high school and decided to use music to escape from trouble. The band has been making music since 1996. They first performed at local functions where they made a name for themselves. In a matter of months, they became one of the most sought-after bands from Abidjan. This is when they decided to take their music career to the next level and they started searching for a recording deal. Nothing came easy for Magic System, as they had to hustle for everything they have. Coming from poverty to being the largest contemporary African band is no child’s play.
With only a demo in their hands, Magic System went door to door looking for a producer, a distribution company and a recording label to sign them. They were helped by a well talented scout, Claude Bassolet. The band ended up working with record labels such as Show Box International, Soft Studios and went on to record in every corner of the continent. Today, their traditional tunes are recognised globally. Some of their best-selling records have topped the music charts in countries such as France, Zambia, Morocco, Sweden and Tunisia.
The love Magic System has for Ivory Coast cannot be described in words. However, most of their songs will give you an idea of how deeply they feel about their beloved country. The band has sang about political violence, civil war, racism, climate change and social issues. Even when the country was facing dark days, Magic System decided to remain in Ivory Coast even though they had the means to move to developed countries. They can be applauded for the role they have played in peacekeeping in the West African country. Politics might not be their profession but they have had more success changing the minds, opinions and lives of ordinary citizens of the country than most politicians.
The four talented musicians have used their stardom to benefit not just themselves or their families but the rest of the country. Through their Festival of Urban Music Anoumabo (FUMUA), they have managed to build Pre-schools and Schools. The Festival of Urban Music Anoumabo is a three days event that attracts over 100,000 spectators at each edition. Magic System invites well-known musicians to perform with them so they can raise money for charity. The money is used to eradicate poverty in their community since poverty is one of the biggest issues faced by Abidjan residents.
However, even at the top of their game, the talented band still had to deal with tragic loss. Magic System is one of the last acts to record with South African legendary entertainer Brenda Fassie before she passed away. They also lost a band member Didier Bonaventure Deigna- Pepito, after the backup singer and drummer drowned during a break from one of their many successful tours. For decades, Magic System has entertained, inspired and improved lives not just those of their fellow citizens but across the borders of Ivory Coast.
Once ranked as the best sellers of African music by FNAC stores, the four Abidjan born musicians have certainly set the bar high for the younger generation. Former President Laurent Gbagbo also recognised Magic System as good ambassadors of Ivorian culture.