So, Aya? We’re waiting.

excerpts from Abouet and Oubrerie’s “Aya”

A.B. Godfreed


photograph by A.B. Godfreed

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,
not plenty
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
Ivorian bonus

Papa… please!
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…



A.B. Godfreed

Non-Entity with a clear purpose to transform self (& perhaps the world) through critical consciousness and Love.