Fadal Dey

(Côte d’Ivoire)


Fadal Dey is currently one of the rising stars of reggae music in Africa. His concerts attract thousands of admirers.

In this interview he speaks about music censorship in Côte d’Ivoire and West Africa, as he experienced it concerning his song ‘Bat Government’. 

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Fadal Dey took part in the session ‘Africa wants to be free’ at the 3rd Freemuse World Conference in Istanbul, Turkey, in November 2006.

Born in 1966 in Bouaflé, Côte d’Ivoire, Fadal Dey (real name: Koné Ibrahima Kalilou) became singer and reggae musician under the name of Fadal Dey after starting off in theater. Having recorded a four-track demo in 1993, he released his first album ‘Religion’ which sold more than 100,000 copies. His reputation quickly crossed the borders. Sales of his second album, ‘Jahsso’, reached 150,000 copies. His latest album, ‘Méditation’, was released in 2003.

More information about Fadal Dey and Côte d’Ivoire:

BBC World Service: ‘Ivory Coast – Songs and Soldiers’

The video interview and Fadal’s speech was recorded by Mik Aidt assisted by Gaëlle Gauthier-Brown. The interview on 24 November 2006, the speech on 26 November 2006.

Signature music: Jason Carter recorded live at the conference. 

Click to hear the audio track

Click to read more about the conference

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Translation of the interview with Fadal Dey

“Hi, I’m an Ivorian artist, musician and reggae singer. I’ve made a song called ‘Bat Government’ and it’s not played at all in my country, especially now. It’s not even played in neighbouring countries like Togo or Guinea.
It’s not heard on the radio simply because, as you know, these countries are relatively young and their president hold on to power against the people’s will. This song sort of denounces that. These countries lack democracy and that is why ‘Bat Government’ is not played there.”

[Fadal sings:]

Sons of Africa
It is time – let’s wake up
It’s really the time for us to tell each other what we call the “gbè”
We must no longer wash the surface of the wound

It’s really time for us to tell each other the “gbè” [the “gbè”=the truth]
For democracy, brave sons, let’s wake up
It’s really time to tell each other the truth

Nelson Mandela beat de Klerk in South Africa
Is de Klerk dead?
François Mitterrand beat Giscard d’Estaing in France
Is d’Estaing dead?
Now Jacques Chirac has replaced Mitterrand
Is that what Mitterrand died of?

As long as some unconscious ones hold on to power to satisfy their egos
Africa will never know any evolution
Any fraternity
country of peace

“Yes I”!

[Interview continues:]

“This song you’ve just heard is called ‘Bat Government’. Unfortunately, this song can’t be played in Côte d’Ivoire anymore. It can’t be played on TV broadcasts simply because, as you’ve heard, it talks about the state of our politics. This song is censured. When you have a programme on state TV or on the radio and you propose to play this song, you will be told : “No, play another song!”.
That’s how we are victims of censorship.
I’m not the only one in the same situation, other musicians are too, like for instance my soul brother Tiken Jah Fakoly, who isn’t played at all on the state channels, only maybe on some private channels.
You also have brother Ned Souls, some of his songs aren’t played either. There also are some artists who would like to say some things but are frightened, who are scared by the situation today and they practise self-censorship.
Well, that’s why I’ve sung you this little song, to say that we live today in a climate where there’s no freedom for expression, you can’t talk and say what you want and this has got to stop.”

[Speech at the Freemuse World Conference:]

“I’m from the north and when you leave my village, you go to Tiken Jah’s village. Thanks God, I don’t have any problems myself in Côte d’Ivoire yet. Physically, I mean. Censorship, of course, but no physical problems yet. There are lines I can’t cross, so I practise self-censorship in a way! [laughs]

In conclusion, I’d like to say that the repression and censorship exercised by our country’s power-holders mustn’t intimidate us. Through their acts, we should know that we are on the right path and that our messages are salutary for all the people of the world. It’s by wrestling away our freedom of expression that humanity will go through a real change, which means true democracy.

And as the proverb says: “Truth reddens the eyes but doesn’t break them”. We have a duty of truth with respect to the people. No matter what challenges there might be, the people always support us. The history of humanity has always shown that men always recognised the merit of freedom fighters. The continuing presence of the songs by Bob Marley is the most manifest proof of this. I thank you.”

[Interview continues:]

“I’m not the only one in this situation, many artists are: for example, big brother Tiken Jah Fakoly whose concert was recently forbidden in Guinea. There are many other artists in Côte d’Ivoire who feel like saying things, exposing and expressing their ideas and beliefs but they’re afraid. They’re afraid of being beaten, exiled, like Tiken Jah, or even assassinated. That means that many artists can’t talk and we lack freedom of expression.

That is why I welcome this conference. We wish to be able to express ourselves. We wish for more democracy, more freedom of expression for musicians. So ‘Bat Government’ is a song advocating for more democracy in Africa.”

Translated by Gaëlle Gauthier-Brown.

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