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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.

New in Music Alley





Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.


African Music Treasures