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Ivory Coast Reggae Legend Alpha Blondy Proves Why Reading Is Fundamental

May 29, 2015

When 62-year-old Ivorian Reggae legend Alpha Blondy, born Seydou Kone, set out to do a radio station in Abidjan, who could have dreamed that a show centered on reading books would be a hit? Wouldn’t it make more sense to keep the focus on music, since selling millions of records worldwide is what Blondy is known for? If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?

Fortunately, Blondy creates his own rules.

Radio Livre, or “Book Radio” translated, is becoming one of those daily gather-around-the-radio-it’s-time-for-uncle-Alpha-to-read-us-a-book pastimes. For Blondy, Radio Livre, which airs on his own station, ‘Alpha Blondy FM,’ serves his agenda. “I’ve always loved to read,” he said in a recent interview. “Our goal is to encourage young people to read. And at least those who don’t know how to read know how to listen.”

Popular among cab drivers, who spend loads of time in the car listening to the radio, and those who can’t read (according to 2012 statistics, the literacy rate in the Ivory Coast is 56.9%), the show is picking up steam.

“Sometimes it’s the most simple ideas that resonate,” says Herve, a computer programmer in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s capital city. “It also shows that people are thirsty for stories, be it books, TV or film.”

It makes sense when you think about it, because who doesn’t like to be read to? It’s like being a kid all over again. Add to that the fact that it’s freakin’ Alpha Blondy, whose voice on songs such as ‘Come Back Jesus,’ ‘Sweet Fanta Diallo,’ and ‘Politiqui‘ leave us wanting to hear more even if he were reading nursery rhythms, and you have a winner! The big bonus is that you actually get to hear great, life-changing classics such as The Alchemist by Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho, Things Fall Apart by Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe, and Allah Is Not Obliged by fellow Ivorian Ahmadou Kourouma.

The show airs every evening at 9 p.m. for two hours. The first hour is a replay of the previous night’s recording, while the second is a new installment.

Really, it’s an amazing idea with only one problem… You have to learn French! Ahhhhh!!!


Read the original article in French.


Photo Courtesy of Wiki Media


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