News / Arts & Entertainment

Kim Kardashian Finds Unlikely Fan Base in Ivory Coast

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian, January 4, 2013.
Reality TV star Kim Kardashian, January 4, 2013.
American reality television star Kim Kardashian is making a visit to the West African nation of Ivory Coast, where her family’s shows have earned her a loyal following. While the family’s exploits might be seen as decadent and absurd by some Americans, fans in the commercial capital of Abidjan view the shows as heartfelt family dramas featuring girls familiar with struggle and hard work.

Its 9 o’clock on a recent weeknight, and throughout Abidjan young women with access to satellite television are tuning into the American reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” - or, as it is known in French, “L’Incroyable Famille Kardashian.”

Popular TV show

Stars of the reality show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians", Khloe Kardashian, center, Kim Kardashian, left, and Kourtney Kardashian pose for a portrait in Los Angeles, March 26, 2009.Stars of the reality show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians", Khloe Kardashian, center, Kim Kardashian, left, and Kourtney Kardashian pose for a portrait in Los Angeles, March 26, 2009.
x
Stars of the reality show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians", Khloe Kardashian, center, Kim Kardashian, left, and Kourtney Kardashian pose for a portrait in Los Angeles, March 26, 2009.
Stars of the reality show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians", Khloe Kardashian, center, Kim Kardashian, left, and Kourtney Kardashian pose for a portrait in Los Angeles, March 26, 2009.
The show, which attracts more than 3 million viewers per episode in the United States, has become something of a surprise hit in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital as well. Although no viewership numbers are available, a version of the show dubbed into French can be viewed by more than 150,000 homes that pay for satellite access - not to mention the tens of thousands of homes that receive pirated services. And the city has no shortage of fans familiar with its characters and plot twists.
 
Carole Yokami, a 25-year-old employee at a clothing store in one of Abidjan’s high-end shopping plazas, says she likes that the show offers a behind-the-scenes look at one of America’s more famous families. The show and its various spinoffs center on three sisters from California who run a chain of upscale boutiques.
 
She says “We used to see them while they were working, but we didn’t know so much about the family and how they were living.” She says “Now we know about their problems, and their joy. It shows that celebrities are people like us and we’re not really different. I love the show and I watch it almost every day. Even yesterday I was watching it.”
 
Kim visits to Ivory Coast

This week, a local lifestyle magazine and the French telecom firm Orange have partnered to bring the family’s most famous member, 32-year-old sister Kim, to Abidjan.

While here, she will promote a new savings card that offers discounts at nightclubs, restaurants and shops. Organizers say she also is likely to visit either an orphanage or a hospital, and host a private party at a nightclub called Life Star.
 
While fans said they are excited about Kim Kardashian’s visit, there is some confusion about its purpose. Marie Pascale Kouadio, an avid watcher of the show, said she is unsure what kind of performance the reality TV star could put on to entertain her fans.
 
She says, “I don’t know why she’s coming to Ivory Coast. She’s not a singer, she’s not a performer. So I’d like to know why she’s coming, and what she’ll be able to do for us.”
 
Promoting - Be Yourself

But Guy Sahouegnon, a publicist who is helping organize the visit, said it is Kardashian’s lack of conventional talent that makes her an ideal promoter of the savings card, which carries the message “be yourself and don’t worry about what other people think.”
 
“Kim Kardashian is different from the generally known stars. She doesn’t sing. She doesn’t dance. But she’s still famous. She has her own talent to be herself and make people love her. She travels around the country, around the world, receiving thousands of fans. People even pay $1,500 to see her in the Middle East - that means something. She is free. She moves from one topic to another one without worrying or thinking about it. She’s a kind of role model. She’s different, but she’s a role model.”
 
Not every fan of the show is convinced of Kim’s role model status. Annick Djouka, a 20-year-old staffer at a boutique specializing in high-end perfume, said she would prefer it if one of the other Kardashian sisters came to Abidjan. She said she soured on Kim after her high-profile marriage to pro basketball star Kris Humphries last year, which ended after 72 days and was widely derided as a publicity stunt.
 
She says that “During Kardashian’s wedding with the basketball player, there were no lessons to take from this kind of behavior.” She says “We can’t learn anything from that. To sum up, she’s a capricious girl. Little girls may like her because they’re capricious too, but I don’t know what kind of influence she’s going to have. Some people may like her, but I don’t like her.”
 
It’s not only women who follow the show. Moise Agba, the 27-year old manager of a City Sport store, said he watches the Kardashians to learn more about America.
 
He says “It shows us the American spirit, and the American way of life. People struggle to earn their living every day and then when they succeed in life they get big cars, houses, luxurious things. It shows us how American people live.”

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hirut from: London
January 19, 2013 4:43 AM
Amazing. The whole world must gone mad. This woman and her other family have no particular talent and yet command a world wide attention.

In a country ragaged by significance political violence and poverty why the these people are an attraction can only be explained as a relief from the day to day hassle of life. Something to laugh at or wish for. Good luck Abijan.


by: JP from: Minnesota
January 18, 2013 1:35 PM
They can have her.
We'll pay postage.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Joe Taylor sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his distinction as New York’s “Subway Idol,” and how he beat out thousands for that title. Joe performs several songs from his new CD, “Anything’s Possible.”