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Publié le 17-05-2018

Augustin Houphouet Abdoulaye Thiam: His Governor's Majesty

It's a king. He has the presence and self-esteem. He is a governor. He has the stuff and the vision. He listens to Mozart and Bach and presides over the traditional Baule court. Portrait of a man of syntheses.
Astrologers would classify it, with reference to its date of birth, August 14, 1952, under the sign of Leo, the king of the jungle. He is rather king of the Akouè, the chief of the chiefs of 43 villages and it is necessary to call it Nanan Boigny N'Dri third of the name. In his courtyard of Yamoussoukro, his authority is not in doubt and this is not due to his stature of one meter eighty-four.
When Nanan agrees to meet us, 2/3 of the village chiefs, despite our impromptu visit with three Swiss women (journalists and photographer) at his home in Yamoussoukro, are present in ceremonial clothes. "We are obligated to the king. When he calls us, all ceasing activities, we answer present "???? and to address him with a grievance, crouching, Nanan's right hand on the knee, the megaphone, his head bowed, spoke to him in a low voice in Baoulé, the first language that the king of Akwe had learned in his early childhood. Nanan nods his head in agreement, the man gets up satisfied and translates loudly to the other leaders present the generosity of Nanan. In Baoulé country, the king has the rare verb and listens a lot. Also, Nanan Boigny N'Dri III speaks little. His notables are more talkative. But this Nanan is also the governor of the autonomous district, territorial collectivity of special status of Yamoussoukro. And the governor, who has the rank of minister, was in another life, doctor of medicine, then journalist, to the pan-African weekly Jeune Afrique.
He knows the importance of communication in the life of an administrator of his rank, without being a fan of newspaper headlines, or TV sets or radios.
Speaking of his first profession as a doctor, the State Doctor says he wanted to give back to life an overpayment. Third boy of a family of 7 children, of the education received by his parents Mariétou Sow and Amadou Thiam (journalist, former Dg of Fraternité Matin, was Minister of Communication, ambassador in Morocco) Augustin Thiam keeps imperishable memories: « We have been educated in respect of work. In the morning: shower, breakfast, school. After class, we recited our lessons. When the result was not satisfactory, we were not entitled to television. And on Thursday, if you do not have a good notebook, the others go to the cinema, you work for not having been able to learn your lessons well. We are a family that cultivates two indispensable qualities: discretion and humility. We have never lacked anything. Missed by anything, the Thiams is an understatement because all the members of the family are more or less unknown celebrities: the former Minister of Planning, the youngest Tidjane, head of Credit Suisse; the eldest with salt-pepper beard Daouda, former Minister of Energy and current special advisor to President Ouattara; Aziz, also former minister and vice president of Necotrans; retired banker N'Deye Ana and Yamoussou who has a luxury jewelery store in Abidjan.
And when we were brought up by Mamie Faitai, the elder sister of President Félix Houphouët-Boigny, we are inevitably steeped in Akan customs and more particularly Baoulé and we understand then the choice of the family and the village on Augustin, heir of throne since his great grandmother Kimou Yamoussou said Yaa Kan. The initiation also, in the sacred wood, leaves traces: still today, in the former Presidential Palace, Nanan Boigny N'Dri III, Catholic Christian, strikes before entering the room of his grandfather Felix Houphouet-Boigny. In his Akouè king's robes, Nanan is aware of his responsibilities and the search for consensus remains the preferred way to solve problems between his subjects. Democrat? Rather monarch than the chief of Akoue chiefs who thinks that it takes great men of the temper of Houphouet-Boigny, Alassane Ouattara, Gandhi, Luther King, Mandela, to lead the people and serve as models. Baudelaire reader, Camus, Sartre, and versifier for his own pleasure, there is in Augustin Thiam a mix that may seem unnatural at first and yet merges very well at home. When he is Nanan Boigny N'Dri III, he is not very prolix but speaks a Baoule for initiates; when he is the district governor Thiam, he expresses himself without mischief in a chastised French punctuated by quotations from great authors including Nietzsche. And even though he claims to be a politician, he was convinced by the politics and charisma of President Ouattara for whom he beat the campaign. For his district, he sees big: "We wrote the Yamoussoukro strategic development plan for the next 15 years.