Africa too has her own divas whose self-adulation and beauty consciousness have continued to hit high. Mama Africa’s divas come in every shape: music entertainers, TV presenters, social animals and the wealthy people.
Both Aicha Koné and Gambian media queen Fatou Camara have similar entertainment history. Aicha Koné, the top Cote d’Ivoire musician, is adulated by millions at home and abroad. The stage master’s fame earned her close contact with Cote d’Ivoire’s dislodged leader who now faces war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Aicha and Laurent Gbagbo do not have anything in common. In fact, they hail from different ethnic groups and even worship in separate ways. However, what most Ivorians could not fathom was Aicha’s closeness to Gbagbo who was still engaged in ethnic-driven violence, launching heavy military assault on her (Aicha’s) Jula [Malinke] tribe. Julas across the region blamed the Queen musician for toiling and moiling with their arch-enemy, painting her “a self-serving person who is interested in her personal comfort and career.”
In the long run, Aicha Koné could not withstand the unending bashing from her own people and fans. She felt so insecure that she had to flee Cote d’Ivoire, despite Laurent Gbagbo’s security guarantees. Aicha later found herself in a quagmire when she felt threatened by Gbagbo supporters who described her a traitor. What more choice did she have other than seeking refuge in Guinea, knowing fully that her life was on the firing line?
Aicha’s story reminds us about our very own Gambian diva who also brushed shoulder with Dictator Yahya Jammeh. The major difference between the two is their level of engagement with their governments. Aicha only threw her fame and clout behind President Gbagbo while Fatou Camara worked for Jammeh in high capacity becoming the Director of Press and Public Relations at State House.
Fatou Camara, the Gambia’s media Queen whose show ranked number one on Gambia Television, undoubtedly earned her celebrity status through hard work. Give credit where it is due, Fatou Camara has proven to be a woman of excellent personality who maters her trade. She presents with confidence and pride, essential ingredients in broadcasting.
What baffles most people was Fatou Camara’s confession that she was “clueless” of all the atrocities happening right under her nose in the Gambia. She also licked old wounds when she wrote on her Facebook page asking “people to leave me to fight my fight.”
Like her Cote d’Ivoire diva sister, Fatou’s closeness to the corridors of power put her in the bad books of Diasporan activists who groaned with pain anytime they saw her friendly and beautiful face flashing on national television for wrong reasons – legitimizing an illegitimate regime that betrayed her people’s mandate. In fact, in one of her clips, Fatou was reported to have crossed the red line by launching attacks on Diasporan activists.
We respects Fatou’s decision to follow her heart and hope that Diaspora Gambians will find a place in their heart to forgive her, especially now that she had gone through a rebirth. She is no longer the diva behind the GRTS microphone. Both the environment and circumstance shape Fatou’s mindset. Just listen to her Leral Show on Freedom Radio and connect the dots. She even got into the skin of her fans the pains she had gone through after reading the news of the execution of nine death row inmates on GRTS in August 2012. “I broke down into tears after reading execution news,” she said.
Except few slips of a tongue, Fatou Camara acted like her diva sister. At home, both of minded their business refusing to be entangled into pro or anti-government sentiments. They both work hard to maintain their popular career of entertaining the masses majority of whose backyard is filled with pain, sadness and hopelessness.
The return of law and order in Cote d’Ivoire lured Aicha Koné to go home and joined her people and fans who were still struggling to recover from the civil war. Strangely, Koné’s Jula people and fans forgave her after realizing that she too had gone through psychological pain. The Cote d’Ivoire diva has again attained her top music status. Will Fatou Camara enjoy similar treatment or attain her celebrity status in a post-Jammeh Gambia, especially now that she has become an outspoken voice of the Gambian struggle, tearing down Gambian dictator.