The Kroumen of the Ivory Coast
In our serialized version of the cultures of Côte d'Ivoire, this first month of the year 2020 is dedicated to the Kroumen. Commonly called Krou, they live in the South-West of Côte d'Ivoire, in the region of BAS-SASSANDRA, precisely in Tabou, Grabo, Grand-Béréby and San-Pedro. Because of this geographic location, they are also called the Southern Krou.
The Kroumen of Côte d'Ivoire have a long history which goes back to the history of the migrations of Africans. They would have originated from the Near East, in particular Egypt. This happened from 3500 BC for meteorological and other reasons. They migrated precisely from the Nile Delta, gathered in twenty-five communities or tribes, BLOGBA or BLOWA, from nine cantons: Bapo, Plapo, Tépo Sud, Tépo Nord, Trépo, Touo, Ourouboué, Tahoux, and San-Pedro to occupy the South-West of the Ivory Coast, i.e. the part of the coast between the Cavally and San rivers, Pedro and extended inland to the South of Taé at the Nigré river.
Kroumen, warrior people, call themselves: Klapo or Klawé or Klagbé in the plural and Klapi or Kloyou or Klayou or even Klapiou in the singular according to the idioms which mean all children or warriors of Kla, the name of their common (mythical) ancestor. Their traditional socio-political organization revolves around territorial and family units which fit into each other according to a pyramid scheme. Kinship, therefore, plays a crucial role in such a type of society, where the only truly undisputed authority is that of the eldest of the lineage, but also marriage, as the creator of alliances. Material culture is relatively uniform. The Kroumen civilization is a clearing civilization. Indeed, they practice shifting cultivation on slash and burn, rice is the basic food, socially the most valued. Cassava, corn, plantain, taro are the supplementary food. To these traditional food products are added the commercial crops of coffee and cocoa (GB and SP), rubber (SOGB: latex treatment plant, oil palm plant) (San Pedro, Grand-Béréby), oil palm, coconut grove (Tabou, Grabo with a processing plant located in Néka 45 km from Grabo.
It would be a distortion of the word Kréo, a small ethnic group on the Liberian coast which would have provided crews for the first European ships to arrive on this coast. The English would have assimilated by homophony, the word Kréo to the English word Crew (crew) which gave Crewmen (men of the crew), a trade which the Kréo were the very first to exercise on this portion of the coast. The word Kroumen has qualified and still qualifies, although lesser today, as a socio-professional category of African workers in seasonal service on European ships. The first mention of the name krou in European writings makes it possible to locate towards the end of the XVIth century, the beginning of the descent towards the sea of the first Kroumen. This descent is precisely about the settlement of Europeans and the development of trade. Undoubtedly, the Kroumen who did not want to integrate into the cola trade with the large metropolises of the Sahel at the time, and who had a pacifist instinct, did they prefer to turn to the Gulf of Guinea and trade with Europeans. This is how the Kroumen of Ivory Coast occupied the Western coast of liaison with the country of origin and commercial relays. The Krou appellation applies to a linguistic or cultural family located in the West and South-West of Côte d'Ivoire.