Hamed Bakayoko, The "Golden Boy"
With his eyes set in the marble of his convictions, the "golden boy" once said to an audience of young entrepreneurs: "Everyone has opportunities in life. It is he who knows how to seize it who succeeds in life. "
Hamed Bakayoko was a product of the spring of free press in Côte d'Ivoire when journalism invaded the political landscape after the fall of the one-party state. Everyone was doing everything. Defending his or her chapel. Excesses were the best-shared things.The era when hooded militants ran the newsrooms and burned all the rules of the trade. Newspapers were born and disappeared like dragonflies.
Hamed Bakayoko, with the daily Le Patriote, was the sword of the ruling party at the time. Above all, he was more inclined to defending the Ouattara couple, Alassane and Dominique. Le Patriote was one of the few media outlets to have published exclusive pictures of their wedding in 1991.
Hamed Bakayoko seized an opportunity at every stage of his life since 1990. A hired hand for any dirty jobs in the early 1990s, he built a reputation as an astute businessman to the shock of many, when he was revealed as the rightful owner of a printing house that distributed among others, Laurent Gbagbo's opposition newspaper La Voie.
In 1993 to no surprised to many, he was at the helm of the Radio Nostalgie franchise in Abidjan. Hamed Bakayoko diversified his activities: the nightlife, restaurants and real estate. A smart businessman was born!
Committed and a loyal "Jack of all trades"
Hamed Bakayoko was a committed man. A go-getter. When Côte d'Ivoire experienced its first mutiny of the Ouattara era in 2014, at a time when many other ministers were cowering, He was at Soro Guillaume's house. The Interior Minister met with the President of the National Assembly. He was aware of one thing and repeated it privately: "in case of a coup de force, I will be the first target. ". Soro Guillaume, former leader of the rebellion and at the time president of the National Assembly, had connections in the army. Bakayoko, tactically was for unity to avoid divisions in the army.
He fought hard for his mentor Ouattara's access to power. From his position, he gave it all, body and soul to protect "the father", to avoid humiliation. According to him, this was a commitment like no other. "Don't worry. Nothing will happen. Trust us," he repeated to the Ivorians at every turn. He had integrated death into his action. He played his role without complexity. Without half measures too. Like a boxer in the ring: he gave blows of all kinds. He also received blows; violent ones.
Hamed Bakayoko knew his limits. He knew how to be framed. He recruited some of his staff through specialised firms. For him, the result and the satisfaction of his boss were important.
A son of the country...
Hamed Bakayoko's success was that of most young Ivorians. He was like a mirror image. A self-made man, a fighter. A man who started from nothing and climbed the ladder and broke the glass ceiling of Ivorian society. President of the Ebony press awards in Yamoussoukro in 2016, he dropped the suit afterwards and found himself in a club with journalists to party until the early hours. He was in his "milieu". The politician had his excesses, but citizen Hamed Bakayoko always recognised his comrades. His old pals. His brothers in crime.
A weakened Prime Minister
Hamed Bakayoko wanted to run for the presidency in 2020. His relationship with then, prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly was difficult at times. However, the two men had a strong link: Alassane Ouattara. The leader's decisions were binding on them. On 13 March 2020, Amadou Gon was designated candidate of the RHDP. Hamed Bakayoko agreed. Upon the death of the man called the Lion, Hamed Bakayoko took over the premiership. He had to organise the 2020 presidential election, prove to his camp that he had the stamina to hold the office and lead the ruling party to victory. The atmosphere was vile. The opposition engaged in a showdown with the government. Unfortunately, 85 people died. His father's third term was covered in blood, but Hamed Bakayoko played it politically in a dialogue with the opposition. "If you are here and you ask us to release political prisoners, it means that you recognise our leadership. Let's move forward... ".
The political dialogue between the government and the opposition resulted in an agreement. However, Hamed Bakayoko did not have the opportunity to rip the rewards of his hard labour. One thing for sure, Côte d'Ivoire had inclusive legislative elections, and the third term is in full swing with a new cabinet.
Thanks to the "golden boy" who died from cancer on 10 March 2021. He will be sorely by friends and foes.