The New Yorker, Sept 2020

Essay by Hilton Als

Baoule Chair

According to the legend from the XVII century a young queen found herself leading her people away from war and violence from the land they once occupied in Ghana, to a new land (what we now know as Ivory Coast). Walking day and night with their enemies chasing them, they reach the banks of river Comoé. But they soon understood it was impossible to cross. They began to throw their most valuable possessions into the river as a sacrifice.

The queen realised her most valuable possession was her son. When she threw him in the river in tears, hippos rose from it allowing them to save their lives.

When they reached the other side, the queen was inconsolable for the loss of her son, and all she could say was baouli which means the son is dead! From that day on they were known as the Baoule people.