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 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
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

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley












Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”