By Wycliff G; DJ Arafat, an Ivorian singer with a huge following in francophone Africa, has died last night after a road accident in Abidjan, the state broadcaster RTI said on Monday.
According to messages and pictures circulating on social media, he had been driving a motorbike and smashed into a car.
Critically injured, he was subsequently admitted to a clinic in Abidjan for a skull fracture before eventually dying at around 8 am GMT on Monday 12 August 2019.
Born in Abidjan in 1986, DJ Arafat’s real name Ange Didier Huon had a massive audience in French-speaking western and central African countries.
He issued 11 albums, mainly of “coupé-décalé” — a dance music form combining rapid percussion, choppy rhythms with hip hop-style vocals.
“We are all in shock,” Ickx Fontaine, an Ivorian producer, and specialist in hip hop told AFP. “He was a real singer and a drummer… he gave a new breath of life to coupé-décalé.”
Later on Monday, around 1,000 fans gathered, weeping and chanting “Arafat cannot die” in front of the hospital in Abidjan’s Cocody suburb where the singer died, AFP reporters at the scene said.
Ivorian Culture Minister Maurice Kouakou Bandaman expressed his condolences and said a tribute would be held to honor the musician.
The high-octane music often using electronic sounds was born in 2003 in Ivorian nightclubs but quickly spread throughout Africa. DJ Arafat’s fame expanded to Europe and the United States, thanks in part to sports stars who made some of the genre’s dance steps popular.
DJ Arafat was named “Best Artist of the Year” at the Ivorian “Coupé-décalé” Awards in 2016 and 2017.
He was born in the music world. His mother was a well-known singer and his father a prominent sound engineer, one music manager said. He started as a DJ in Yopougon, one of Abidjan’s night-life districts.
“He had natural charisma,” said Ozone, a hip hop producer and television host. “He will remain a force for Ivorian and African music.”
Rest in Peace DJ Arafat!