Today marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Ivory Coast’s first president, Félix Houphouët-Boigny.
Houphouët-Boigny, born on October 18, 1905, came from a long line of chiefs. He was set to succeed Kouassi N’Go, the village chief upon his death in 1910 but since he was too young to rule, the position was taken by his step-father as regent until he came of age.
He went to school, thanks to the French, who organised for him to attend school at the military base in Bonzi. He would go to a boarding school for his secondary education and eventually trained as a medical assistant. Under this role, he created a union of indigenous doctors, something that saw the French move him to a different town to avoid labour issues.
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He relinquished his position as village chief to his younger brother Augustine, preferring his medical career. He would enter politics in 1945, setting the stage for his future as the leader of the West African nation.
Like many African leaders of the time, he took a paternalistic approach in his rule, subduing any dissent and eventually becoming the longest-serving African president at the time of his death in 1993.
Here are five main things Houphouët-Boigny will be remembered for.