The celebrated West African statesman, President Houphouet Boigny of the Ivory Coast, was born on October 18, 1905 in the village of Yamoussockro, not many miles from the birthplace of President Kwame Nkrumah, just across the border Boigny, in the Baoul language means, battering rain.
He was educated by missionaries at Bingerville and then at a medical school in Senegal, where he graduated as a fully qualified medical doctor, and for fifteen years he earnestly served his people to the best of his ability.
Long before he entered politics, his fame and prestige and the popularity, which he established, went far beyond the Ivory Coast. Yet he had no interest in politics. The everyday problems of his countrymen, the farmers, his patients, and others led him gradually to politics.
It is worth mentioning a few of the many posts he had held in the past. At one time, he was chief administrator of his native district, secretary of the African Agricultural Union – a union through which he made France abolish her forced labor system of making Africans work on white-owned farms and plantations. He was also founder of the African Democratic Rally, mayor of the city of dispute, and last but not least, a mouthpiece for Upper Volta and Ivory Coast in the constituent and the French National Assembly.
It was here that he played a vital role in the formation of the “Labor Code” for French Overseas Territories, it was here too that he played an active part in the drafting of the loi-cadre, -which established universal suffrage and executive councils for French Overseas Territories.
This immensely smart and respectable leader is a man of cautious and pragmatic nature, interested in concrete results, rather than in ideologies. He opposes nationalization and state control of industry, but supports enterprise economic system, and foreign capital investment. Highly respected in both France and West Africa, he remains a born leader, with an almost “mystical insight”, that will succeed in bringing greatness to his country.