Ivory Coast bids singer DJ Arafat farewell, fans open his coffin

Thousands of fans gathered to pay tribute to DJ Arafat, an Ivorian singer with a huge following in francophone Africa that died at the age of 33, on Aug. 12, after a motorbike crash. (AFP/Sia Kambou)
Updated 01 September 2019
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Ivory Coast bids singer DJ Arafat farewell, fans open his coffin

  • News of his death led to scenes of hysteria among fans and Twitter tributes from fellow artists
  • Police fired teargas to disperse the grave profaners, and several people were injured

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast: Fans of Ivorian singer DJ Arafat opened his coffin Saturday to take photos of the corpse, prompting police to fire teargas after an overnight funeral concert where tens of thousands paid tribute to the one of West Africa’s most popular stars.

Following hours of musical homage, tears, and solemn reminiscence at Abijan’s main stadium, events took a dark turn as fans battled police preventing them from entering the cemetery where the singer’s family gave him a private burial.

But several did make into the Williamsville cemetery in Abidjan’s working-class Adjame district, forced open the fresh grave and coffin, and took photos and videos that they shared on social media. Police fired teargas to disperse the grave profaners, and several people were injured, witnesses told AFP.

“We wanted to see the body of our idol before the tomb was sealed,” said one fan, who did not give a name. Throughout the night, A-list African stars such as Davido, Sidiki Diabate, Fally Ipupa and Serge Beynaud had sung in memory of DJ Arafat, who died aged 33 on August 12 after a motorbike crash in Abidjan.

“The ceremony was really moving,” said Raymonde Nguessan. “We have lost a great man.” Another fan, Samuel Kablan, tearfully declared: “Arafat was my life, my source of inspiration.” Culture Minister Maurice Bandaman conferred on DJ Arafat the national order of cultural merit for “his immense contribution to the artistic radiance” of Ivory Coast.

On Saturday morning, before the private burial, DJ Arafat’s casket was placed at the center of the 35,000-capacity Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan, drawing wild applause before the mood turned somber and many burst into tears. The singer, whose given name was Ange Didier Houon, was one of the Francophone world’s most popular African musicians, considered the “king” of coupe-decale (cut and run) — an Ivorian form of dance music.

News of his death led to scenes of hysteria among fans and Twitter tributes from fellow artists. President Alassane Ouattara called him “a youth icon and ambassador of Ivorian music and culture.” DJ Arafat’s five children were present at the concert. There was tight security at the venue with some 6,500 security forces deployed across the stadium overlooking Abidjan’s picturesque lagoon.

State radio and television broadcast the event live and giant screens were installed in Yopougon and other working-class areas, as well as the upmarket Cocody-Angre district where DJ Arafat lived. With a professional recording engineer for a father and a singer for a mother, a young DJ Arafat was well placed to discover musical techniques on the job.

“He toured the studios to learn, he was curious about everything,” said Franck Alcide Kacou, label and publishing manager of Universal Music Africa, a subsidiary of the multinational Vivendi, which produced DJ Arafat’s work from 2013.
Working as a disc jockey on Rue Princesse, DJ Arafat made his breakthrough with “Jonathan” in 2003, which he followed with a string of other hits.

He “revolutionized coupe-decale by mixing sounds and rhythms. For instance he was inspired by African traditional music, but also by Nigerian Afrobeat, by rap and by Brazilian funk,” Kacou said. “He was also an exceptional dancer and he linked the music he made to new dance forms.”
Coupe-decale originated in the bars of the lively Rue Princesse in the working-class Yopougon district of Abidjan and clubs and spread across West Africa.

His broad musical interest was reflected on DJ Arafat’s last album “Renaissance,” released in December 2018 and featuring artists including Congolese rapper Maitre Gims and French singer Dadju.
The Ivorian star was also known for conflict with rivals.

“He had a divisive personality. He was very sensitive, which explains his ‘unfiltered’ reactions and clashes with other artists, which formed part of his musical career,” Kacou said. DJ Arafat won artist of the year in the Coupe-Decale Awards of 2016 and 2017, and had been named “Best African Artist” in 2012 at the pan-African Kora Music Awards.


Mo Salah’s wife: Egyptian women’s icon who shuns limelight

Updated 18 September 2019

Mo Salah’s wife: Egyptian women’s icon who shuns limelight

  • Salah prefers to keep his private life in general away from the glare of the media

CAIRO: Magi Sadeq, 25, is known for keeping a low profile in the media compared to the wives of other footballers. 

The wife of Liverpool and Egypt star Mohamed Salah has become something of a celebrity in her own right after appearing with her husband while maintaining a conservative look.

Salah prefers to keep his private life in general away from the glare of the media, but sometimes there is no escaping the spotlight for his wife and daughter.

Sadeq appeared with her husband at celebrations held by the Confederation of African Football when Salah won the African Player of the Year award. She also appeared with their daughter Makka during celebrations marking Salah’s winning of the Premier League Golden Boot award, and after Liverpool won the 2019 UEFA Champions League.

Sadeq was born and raised in Nagrig, a village in Gharbia where Salah was also born. It is the same place where they like to spend their holidays and special occasions whenever they have the chance.

FASTFACT

Sadeq appeared with her husband at celebrations held by the Confederation of African Football when Salah won the African Player of the Year award.

She has a twin sister, Mohab, and two other sisters, Mahy and Miram. Their parents were both teachers at Mohamed Eyad Al-Tantawi School, where she met the future Egyptian international.

Sadeq, who maintains a simple lifestyle, fell in love with Salah 10 years before they married. Their love story was the talk of the town where they lived.

They were married in 2013 as the player started taking his first steps in Europe with Swiss football club Basel. They married when he returned home for his first holiday.  

She keeps her husband connected to his rural roots. She doesn’t have any social media accounts, and unlike other footballer’s wives, she is not interested in appearance and makeup. She prefers to wear body-covering conservative clothes.

Sadeq and her twin sister both obtained their degrees in biotechnology from Alexandria University. She is responsible for her husband’s charity work in Egypt. Her neighbors say that she helps in buying the necessary home appliances and other needs of newly married couples. She also supervises charity work and regularly attends the special events staged by her village even though she has been made busier after her husband joined Liverpool.

Salah once said of his wife: “I am unfair to Magi as I give her the least of my time due to the nature of my work. I would like to thank her for her support and for being in my life.”