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Tears, Tributes As DJ Arafat Goes Home Today

DJ Arafat. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/BBC

After a musical vigil yesterday at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium, the Republic of Ivory Coast is in pensive mood today, as leading musicians and entertainers from across the Africa are currently in Abidjan for the final burial of late legend of coupé-décalé music, Ange Didier Huon, popularly known as DJ Arafat.

An icon of Ivorian culture, who carried high the flag of the country with his art, Arafat died on August 12, after crashing his motorbike into a car believed to belong to a radio presenter. Hundreds of thousands of fans thronged the medical facility where he passed.

The singer, who died at 33, leaves behind his girlfriend Carmen and their children. His remains will be buried today at the Williamsville Cemetery in Abidjan.

The state broadcaster, RTI, was among the first to break news of his death, while the Culture Minister of Ivory Coast spoke shortly after expressing condolences to the family and followers.

President Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast also tweeted his condolences on social media. In fact, Twitter and Facebook were awash with solidarity from fellow artistes and fans alike from across the globe.

The African Union Commission chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, also tweeted his message of condolence to the family, while Ex Ivorian international Didier Drogba also paid his respects to DJ Arafat, describing his death as a loss to the deceased’s family, to the nation and music.

In a moving tribute, Nigeria’s Jay Martin, who worked with DJ Arafat on his hit track Touching Body, said, “I remember the first time we worked together in the studio in Los Angeles on my song Touching Body six years ago; I knew DJ Arafat since the time of his first song, Jonathan. We became brothers; our passion was to create and create great sounds for our brothers and sisters in Africa and in the world.

“That’s why when I produced Touching Body, Faro Faro and four other unreleased songs, I always have one thing in my mind; to bless Africa and the whole world with great songs. To think that you are no longer here my dear friend DJ Arafat is always very difficult for me because we still have songs that haven’t come out yet. I will always miss your contact and your vibes once you’re on a song and your brother energy.

Jay Martin, who is currently in Abidjan to pay his last respect added, “Life is just a dream for the dead. As Arafat begins his last journey back to his place of rest, I would like to ask you, to always remind you that you only have one life, which is a great opportunity here on earth. Make it count, be wise and leave legacy when your time comes. Go well my friend my brother my colleague DJ Arafat,” the Abia State native said.

The Ivorian government had announced that it would pay the full costs of Arafat’s funeral ceremony.

“For an exceptional man, exceptional measures,” explained the Ivorian authorities.

In his honour, The Félix Houphouët Boigny stadium, which was under construction, was open yesterday for a spectacular vigil with leading entertainers from across Africa, including Nigeria’s Jay Martins, Congolese stars Koffi Olomide and Fally Ipupa, in attendance to pay last respect to a fallen hero of African music.

“He must be accompanied with dignity. There will be concerts, there are artistes coming from all over the country to pay a last tribute,” Yves Rolland Jay Jay, former communications officer for the star had announced.

Already, the country’s Minister of Culture and Francophonie, Maurice Bandaman, has announced the opening of a museum dedicated to DJ Arafat in the coming years.

“We must mark the story. We want a museum to be built to perpetuate the work of DJ Arafat and that this museum is a sanctuary,” the Minister hinted.

Meanwhile, the late DJ Arafat, known for his infectious music rhythms and energetic dance, has also been posthumously nominated in the Best Male Artiste in Central Africa and Best African Dance or Choreography categories for works he produced within the 6th AFRIMA entry submission window of August 1, 2018 – August 2, 2019.

Born January 26, 1986, Arafat was the son of Tina Glamour, a popular singer, and the deceased musician and sound engineer Houon Pierre. He started his music career as a DJ in Yopougon, a night-life district in Abidjan, but later left for France to improve his career and even overstayed his visa. In 2005, he spent a month in detention as an undocumented migrant.

Arafat, who became a star of his genre around 2009, was considered one of the most popular African artists in Francophone countries countries around the world. He released 11 music albums primarily in the popular Coupe-Decale dance music style, in his career that spanned fifteen years.

BBC described him as the king of Coupé-Décalé, which means “cut and run”, in Ivorian slang it means “to cheat someone and run away” and it began in the early 2000s during Ivory Coast’s civil war. The music incorporates fast percussion, deep bass and hip-hop-style vocals.

Arafat became the symbol of the flashy well-dressed lifestyle, which is associated with the music. His song Dosabado is one of his most popular hits. He liked motorcycles and also featured them in his recent hit Moto Moto released in May. He had multiple motorcycle accidents, one of which was in 2009. Ten years later in 2019 Arafat had a fatal motorcycle accident that ended his life.

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