The Ebriés are an ethnic group from Côte d'Ivoire. Initially called "Tchamans" or "Achans" people.
"Tchamans" or "Achans" stands for " The chosen ones". However, other sources believe that the name Ebrié was given to the Chamans by the Abourés who were their adversaries in ancestral times. Etymologically, the word means "charcoal men" or "dirty men".
The derogatory connotation stems from the many tribal wars lost to the "Tchamans or Achans". For a reason of their own, colonialists chose to call them "Ebriés", rather than "Tchamans" as they were once referred to. The singular form of Tchaman is "Tchabio" for a man and "Tchabia" for a woman.
They live in the south of Côte d'Ivoire, around the lagoon that bears their name. This imposing body of water (Ebrié lagoon) crossing the city of Abidjan, from Grand-Bassam (in the East) to the Assagni Canal (in the West). They represent about 0.7% of the country's population.
Origin of the Tchaman or Ebriés
The Ebriés are members of the Akan ethnic group. Oral tradition teaches us that they migrated from the Northeast region of the Ashanti country of Ghana. They were part of a wave of successive migrations of Akans who fled, following a war with a neighbouring ethnic group in 18th century Ghana. They are part of nine sub-groups ( Kwè, Bidjan, Yopougon, Nonkwa, Songon, Bodo, Dyapo, Bya and Gnangon) forming sixty-three villages.
The Ebriés live in large villages organized along a central artery. Each village has three religious buildings: a Catholic church, a Protestant temple and a Harrist temple. The villages or "akubè" are divided into quartiers or "akrobu" named after the plot of land on which they are built. "Atô" is the name given to the "quartiers" on higher grounds and "Até" for those on lower grounds. School buildings are grouped in a separate neighbourhood. The cemeteries are usually located in the "Atô" (high) district, a few hundred meters away from the village.
The Ebriés mainly live off fishing. However, those in the peripheral regions (Songon, Bingerville...) practice agriculture and produce food crops (plantain banana, yam, taro, cassava) and export products (coffee, cocoa, hevea, palm oil, bananas, pineapple...).
Political and traditional organization
One of the fundamental structures of Ebrié society is the "Generations". A generation consists of assembling those born within fifteen years. Members of the same generation all consider themselves brothers and sisters. Generations are named as follows: Bénis, Gnando, Dougbo and Tchagba. Each generation comprises four age groups named the Djehou (elders), the Dongba (puinés), the Agban (cadets) and the Assoukrou (benjamins). A complete cycle of four generations lasts sixty years. It should be noted that this social organization is essentially based on clans that are functions of maternal lineage. However, a child is always the responsibility of his (her) father who names him (her). The child will later join their maternal family according to the original matrilineal system. Relations between generations are institutionalized. As a result, all individuals are equal in rights and duties and are responsible for managing the affairs of the village. This makes Ebrié society an egalitarian and democratic society.