Ivorian Clergy, Laity Pay Glowing Tribute to Bishop Who Wrote the National Anthem

Late Bishop Pierre-Marie Coty, Bishop Emeritus of Daloa Diocese in Ivory Coast who died Friday, July 17, 2020

Members of the Clergy and the Laity including government officials in Ivory Coast have paid glowing tribute to the Bishop Emeritus of Daloa, Pierre-Marie Coty, known for writing the lyrics to the West African country’s National Anthem.

He died Friday, July 17 at the age of 92 “at 9 pm at Polyclinic Sainte Anne-Marie of Abidjan (PISAM),” the President of the Episcopal Conference of Ivory Coast (CECCI), Bishop Ignace Bessi Dogbo announced in a statement.

“All the members of the Episcopal Conference of Ivory Coast unite themselves to the sorrow of the biological family of the deceased and pray to the Lord, who conquered evil and death, to welcome him in Heaven,” Bishop Ignace says in his July 17 statement issued on behalf of members of CECCI.

In 1958, Bishop Coty wrote the national anthem of the Republic of Ivory Coast for which he was awarded the title “Commander of the National Order” in November 2013.

In a 2018 interview with La Croix Africa, late Bishop Coty recounted the story of the country's national anthem saying, “It was a national competition for the composition of the anthem because the country was about to become independent in two years' time (1960). In our ecclesiastical studies, we were told that we had to avoid politics. So, we did not feel concerned about this contest.”

He added, “But on the instructions of former Ivorian President Félix Houphouët-Boigny, the Clergy took part in this national competition. Thus, young Priests such as Michel Pango, Pierre-Marie Coty and Marcel Eboyi took part, as well as lay people such as Mathieu Ekra, member of parliament for Bonoua and a Frenchman named Sarbonne.”

“At the time, Fr. Pango was the greatest musician of the Ivorian Clergy,” Bishop Coty recalled and continued, “Fr. Pango informed me that he was asked to compose the music for the national anthem. He also asked me to write the lyrics. So Pango did the music and I did the lyrics for the national anthem.”

In a tribute to the late Bishop shared with ACI Africa, the leadership of the Catholic Youth Movement in Ivory Coast said that the country has “lost an illustrious son and servant of God. Very few Ivorians and Africans know that he is the composer, the author of our anthem, a text which sounds like a poem but which is a true prophecy for our young nation.”

“Thank you, Bishop Pierre-Marie Coty, for this great and beautiful legacy. You can now go to our Heavenly Father in peace after a successful mission,” the officials of the Catholic Youth Movement in Ivory Coast added. 

Ivorian politician Marcel Amon-Tanoh has described Bishop Coty as a messenger of peace for the West African nation, praising his creativity in writing the country’s anthem.

“It is with deep sorrow that I learned of the death of Monsignor Pierre-Marie Coty. A Messenger of peace, tireless servant of God, he was also the author of the words of the Abidjanese, our national anthem. This magnificent text resembles him and brings us together, it expresses our faith in humanity,” Amon-Tanoh tweeted.

“I bow before his memory and address my most sincere condolences to his family and loved ones and to the Episcopal Conference of Ivory Coast,” eulogized Amon-Tanoh who served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Ivory Coast from 2016 to March 2020.

On his part, Franck Alzouma, a Catholic based in Yopougon tweeted, “Bishop Pierre-Marie Coty, father of the Abidjanese was a great man, a man of God whose heart was filled with love, a good spiritual counsellor who gave without counting or trilling all the unhappy souls who knocked at his door. Sincere condolences to the grieving family.”

Bishop Coty is also remembered for his contributions to social communication having served as the pioneer chair of the Commission for Social Communications at CECCI.

Fr. Ernest Kouacou, a Cleric of the Diocese of Abengourou who worked closely with the late Bishop shared on his Facebook Page memories of their work in the domain of social communication.

“We had the privilege of learning and working alongside him (the late Bishop) for many years. He was pleasant to be around for his humility, his greatness of spirit, his intelligence and his openness,” Fr. Ernest posted on his Facebook account.

“Dear Monsignor, Rest in peace in the joy of the Sovereign Master. May He welcome you in His Heavenly Kingdom and permit you to pray for us who are still walking through the valley of tears with faith and hope that one day we will find ourselves again working for Communion and eternal Communication,” eulogized the Ivorian Cleric who is also the Parish Priest of Koun Fao in the eastern region of Ivory Coast.

In another tribute shared with ACI Africa, Monday, July 20, Lazare Koffi Koffi, a Catholic journalist based in Abidjan recounts the contributions of the late Bishop in forming his career. 

“It was under his leadership, in 1987, when he was then President of the National Commission for Social Communications at the level of the Episcopal Conference of Ivory Coast, that I was initiated into journalism. It is thanks to the late Bishop that many Priests and lay faithful were also introduced to journalism,” Koffi writes.

He continues, “Thanks to Bishop Coty, I was sent to Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso to the headquarters of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (RECOWA) to further my training in journalism.”

“Following this, I was chosen to be a correspondent for Religio, a Vatican-based bulletin specializing in experiences of dialogue not only between Christians and Muslims but also between Christians and followers of traditional religions,” the Abidjan-based Catholic journalist recalls.

He continues, “As this eminent man of God is leaving us, I would like to pay tribute to his memory and thank him for all the interest he has shown in my person and for all the religious formation he has lovingly given me, a formation which today constitutes the depths of my ideological conscience, which I place at the service of my brothers and sisters and my people in my struggle for human development.”

Born in Anyama-Adjamé in south-eastern Ivory Coast in November 1927, Bishop Coty was ordained a Priest of the Archdiocese of Abidjan in July 1955. He was appointed Bishop of Daloa in November 1975 by Pope Paul VI.  He retired in March 2005.

Members of CECCI are yet to announce the date of his burial.


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