So, Aya? We're waiting.
Updated: Oct 2, 2022
Wash a dog’s eyes
one day it’ll bite you
I’ve come here today
to cast out all evil spirits!
For us black people
France is a land of pain,
She’s got a hard heart, dêh!
You’re not wanted
What a hungry belly!
In the Name of Jesus,
I rebuke you!
I’ve got something cooking
Calm down… We’re coming…
(You cannot separate a nail from its finger)
I’ll tell you how
we’re going to nab that mangy dog!
This piece is composed solely out of phrases taken randomly from “Aya: Love in Yop City”, a graphic novel written by Marguerite Abouet and illustrated by Clément Oubrerie (2013). This delightful compilation, which I purchased in 2014, is part one of the Aya series—as published by Drawn & Quarterly in Montreal.
Seven years prior, I stumbled across Abouet & Oubrerie’s (2007) “Aya de Yopougon” comic book and it was love at first sight! This, simply because there was (and probably still is) a dearth of cartoon publications with a focus on the lives of contemporary Africans situated on the African continent.
Back then, it was a real gem to come across the English translations of this graphic novel series about 1970s Ivorian city life, as seen through the eyes of 19-year-old Aya and the complex perspectives (and complicated lives) of her meddlesome family members, her besties (Adjoua and Bintou), and a slew of interesting characters living in Yop City.
The Aya series reminds me of another first love. That of Jean Pierre Bekolo’s (1992) movie, “Quartier Mozart”—another African gem, which I love for the very same reason: it’s nuanced and witty representation of contemporary life in an African city, with strong female characters to boot!
It is why, after my 2007 Aya purchase, I subsequently grabbed myself a copy of “Aya of Yop City” (2008) and then, “Aya: The Secrets Come Out” (2009), before rounding them off with the 2014 purchase. I am also yet to get my eager hands on a GKIDS DVD of the “Aya of Yop City” animation movie (2013/2019).
One can never go wrong with having too many Aya books, for if the good stories and great art don’t grab your full attention, the Ivorian food recipes (at the end of each book) will.