In the tradition of the Krou people, each ethnic group has its history. We hope that our contribution will bring to light the origins of the brave Gouro people of the Ivory Coast and their ancestral links with other ethnic groups in the "far" West of the country.
Among the first settlers of the Ivory Coast, the Gouro are an integral part of the foresters. For centuries, they lived with others in the rainforest where they led a community life without social upheaval, as hunters according to their African customs, with mystical powers to the point where they wanted to rule among others, the Bétés, claiming their fair share of games in warfare.
Other foresters then started calling them (bilignoan), which means: untrustworthy in Bété. The Gouros felt humiliated. Negotiations to achieve social appeasement were engaged to no avail. Then, the wise of the majority (Bété) decided to impose sanctions: (GIou wanamè), which means: (even if they no longer are part of the large family, they will not dig a hole to live in. They will have to move elsewhere). Hence the name (Gour) which became (Gouro) by the white colonizers. Even today, the same term (GIou wanamè) in Gouro means (here is a hole). The Gouro still call the Bété, the SIAN, as in Nanan Sian of CE1 / CE2 history books with the national flag cover, page 12 CEDA edition. (SIAN) was the first name of the founding fathers of the current Ivory Coast in 1069 (11th century) after Christ.
As the story goes, the Gouros left the Bétés, just as the Bétés fearing high waters in the South-West, left the Krou people to head for the rainforest. Thus, after many misunderstandings, the (Gour) left their Bétés brothers for the savannah where they build their first village; the modern-day Bouaké.
In 1720 (18th century), the Baoulés, migrating from EL MINA (GHANA), met the Gour on these lands. In the 19th century, French colonizers, encountered these two groups of people with different customs: (patriarchy for the Gouros and matriarchy for the Baoulés). In their inquiries, the white men wanted to know who built the village. A Baoulé pointed to a Gour and said in his patois (yo ôlè): ( Them). Lost in translation, (Yowlè) does not make sense in the Akan tradition. There are no Baoulés Yowlè, instead Gouro Yowlè, the main objects of the expression.
The Gour did not much appreciate the Savanah climate so they returned to their natural environment, the rainforest, where they founded the village of Oumé. Both, the cities of Bouaké and Oumé were founded by the Gouros, not by those who occupy them today.
Historically, the Gouros are not the first inhabitants of the Sian country, founders of the Ivory Coast. All ethnic groups of Côte d'Ivoire, each have a history. By ethnic group, each Ivorian is geographically localized, taking into account his/her history by date of arrival on the land of their forefathers. For example, the Ivorians of the West, Mid-West and the South have been around since the 11th century. Ivorians from the South and East have been around since the 17th century. In Central Ivory Coast, the Baoulés were welcomed by the Gours in the 18th century. As for Northerners, they have been around since the latter part of the 19th century.
One cannot rely on the 18th-century account of French colonizers to establish the true story of the Gouros, insofar as it is well documented that the Portuguese knew of the existence of the SIAN of 1069 since the year 1469, as well as the English in the 17th century when they showed up in the South of the country.
The history of mankind is related to origins as an umbilical cord, because it is a fundamental experience that is not meant to please one and to flout others. Men of old had traditional laws and rules that they observed daily, according to their African customs. Today, all the fundamental virtues are rejected by modern society, and the history of peoples is the victim of dishonest accounts by those who do not have the right to write it. History is the compass that indicates the way forward for the progress of social rights. We must fully restore the continuity of our history from generations to generations.
The iconic feature of the Gouros' culture is the Zaouli traditional dance. The Zaouli mask used in the dance was created in the 1950s, reportedly inspired by a girl named "Djela Lou Zaouli" meaning (Zaouli, daughter of Djela). However, stories on the origins of the mask are varied, and each mask can have its symbolic history.
Each Gouro village has a local Zaouli dancer (always male), performing during funerals and celebrations. The dance is believed to increase the productivity of a village, seen as a tool of unity for the Gouro community, and by extension the whole country.