ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST - Ivorian musicians have released a new song in the wake of the March 13 terror attack at Grand-Bassam beach. The video for "Meme Pas Peur" ("Not Even Scared") was recorded on the same sands where terrorist gunmen killed 19 people and wounded dozens more.
The message of the upbeat dance song is that Ivorians will not bow to terrorism.
"In Ivory Coast, we are standing up, not even scared," the artists sing, addressing the attackers of Grand-Bassam.
Chico Lacoste, the song's producer, said he wondered what he could do in response to the attack.
"What do we have to fight these bandits? We have a microphone," he said. "So we decided to release a song to tell people to not be scared of these barbarians. We have to keep on living."
For the 11 artists who answered Lacoste’s call and formed the Collectif Bassam, or Bassam Collective, it was a no-brainer.
"It’s normal that artists stand up," said Paul Madys, one of the performers. "Because every war is a war against culture."
The video of the song shows people singing and dancing on the picturesque beach, where a few days ago terrorists with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb opened fire on beachgoers and police.
Artist Siro said the song is meant to encourage people to stand up to terror by not changing their lifestyles.
"That barbarism wanted to show us death," he said. "We don’t want their barbarism to impose on us their way of life. We had to use the opposite; we had to use joy."
Guard against division
The upbeat tune invites Ivorians to dance their fear away and to not let the attack divide them, Siro said as he sat next to another musician in the collective.
"Here is Mawa Traoré, who is a Muslim artist," he said. "I’m Christian. We wanted to show people that we are one. Like a keyboard. A musical keyboard has different notes, but when you play them together, you get a melody."
The song, released just a few days ago, has already generated buzz. Abidjan resident Alassane Soumahoro said he thought the project was a great effort by the musicians to soothe the hearts of Ivorians and give them a new start, "because it was horrible. We are not used to have that kind of attack here. ... I think [the song] is a great expression of solidarity."
Sitting nearby, Steven Agboke agreed, and said he thought musicians could be of influence, "because in Ivory Coast, music is important. We’ve had crises in the past, and it’s music that brought us joy. Otherwise, we would have stayed in our shells."
For some, the song is like preaching to the choir.
Abidjan resident and Grand-Bassam regular Ange Frank Kouassi said he was not afraid to return to the beach. "I’m not scared at all," he said.
The song can be downloaded free on several Ivorian websites.