Félix Houphouët-Boigny - Early Life - Birth, Childhood and Education

Birth, Childhood and Education

According to his official biography, Houphouët-Boigny was probably born on 18 October 1905, in Yamoussoukro, Côte d'Ivoire to a family of chiefs of the Baoulé people. Unofficial accounts, however, place his birth date up to seven years earlier. Born into the animist Akouès tribe, he was given the name Dia Houphouët: his first name Dia means "prophet" or "magician" and his surname came from his father, N'Doli Houphouët. Dia Houphouët was the great-nephew of Queen Yamousso and the village chief, Kouassi N'Go. When N'Go was murdered in 1910, Dia was called on to succeed him as chief. Due to his young age, his stepfather Gbro Diby ruled as regent, Dia's father having already died.

Houphouët-Boigny descended from tribal chiefs through his mother, Kimou N'Drive (also known as N’Dri Kan), who died in 1936. Doubts remain as to the identity of his father, N'Doli. Officially a native of the N’Zipri of Didiévi tribe, N’Doli Houphouët died shortly after the birth of his son Augustin, although no reliable information regarding his death exists. This uncertainty has given rise to rumors, including a widespread one that his father was a Sudanese–born Muslim named Cissé. Houphouët-Boigny had two elder sisters, Faitai (1898?-1998) and Adjoua (d. 1987), as well as younger brother Augustin (d. 1939).

Recognising his place in the hierarchy, the colonial administration sent Houphouët to school at the military post in Bonzi, not far from his village, despite strenuous objections from relatives, especially his grandaunt Yamousso. In 1915, he was transferred to the école primaire supérieure (secondary) at Bingerville in spite of his family's reluctance. The same year, at Bingerville, he converted to Christianity; he considered it a modern religion and an obstacle to the spread of Islam. He chose to be christened Félix. First in his class, he was accepted into the École William Ponty in 1919, and earned a teaching degree. In 1921, he attended the École de médecine de l'AOF (French West Africa School of Medicine) in Senegal, where he came first in his class in 1925 and qualified as a medical assistant. However, he never completed his studies in medicine and could only aspire to a career as a médecin africain, a poorly paid doctor.

Read more about this topic:  Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Early Life

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