Love and Sex in West Africa

Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Senegal – when it comes to love and sex, these African countries are caught between tradition and modernity.

The Ivory Coast is full of contrasts. It is a free society which promotes women’s rights, but taboos and persecution of minorities are also common. Up until recently, men always took the lead in any seduction. Now young women in Ivory Coast are free to have more casual relationships. They call it “mougoupan” – a hook up without emotional attachment. Madoca, a young Ivorian, says that it’s a way for her to claim her independence. It’s a sexual revolution, but in a country where 13-year-old girls are still taught how to be submissive to their future husbands.

We also met activists who are fighting against forced marriages in the DRC. Our teams travelled to a region where this practice is commonplace, and where it’s not uncommon for a 12-year-old girl to be already married and pregnant.

In Senegal, most marriages are between members of the same caste. Many parents will not allow their children to marry someone from a different caste or social class. They want to ensure the purity of their race, according to ancestral tradition, but this has become more controversial and some people see this as a form of racial discrimination. For instance, members of the brotherhood of Layennes, near the capital Dakar, who encourage people to marry for love, regardless of caste.

Weddings in the Ivory Coast are strongly influenced by Western traditions. We meet Cynthia who getting married in a white bridal gown with bridesmaids. Her groom James, has groomsmen, just like a Western wedding. But the Ivorian tradition of dowry still persists, either in the form of a sum of money, or in some villages, a goat and a barrel of beer. 

Polygamy remains common. It’s illegal in Ivory Coast, but accepted in Senegal. Alexis is in love with two women and is careful not to arouse too much jealousy between them. But for him polygamy serves an economic purpose. He needs his wives’ help to work the fields and run the household. 

Through all of these stories, we reveal the modern realities of romance in West African countries.


  • Year: 2022
  • Duration: 52 mins
  • Production: Tony Comiti Productions
  • Director: Julien Boluen & Charles Comiti
  • Available Versions: ENG, FRA
  • Country of production: France

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