So what has football got to do with peace? The final of the African Cup of Nations, between Nigeria and the Ivory Coast, takes places in Abidjan, capital of the Ivory Coast, this Sunday 11th February. While the attention of the footballing world will be on the game, there is a compelling and positive sideshow where football and footballers become influential peacemakers.
Dider Drogba – football and peacemaking in the Ivory Coast Didier Drogba, former Chelsea Footballer, and Ivory Coast international, lived in a country that had experienced full scale civil war since 2002, between a predominantly Muslim north and a government controlled south. Drogba called for a stop to the war which led to a five year ceasefire and in 2010 he was included in Time Magazines list of the 100 most influential people in the world because of his mediation efforts. In 2011 he was appointed to the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Of course Drogba was not the only or even the main cause of enabling a peace process to succeed, but he did provide the inspiration and belief that a ceasefire and a peace agreement was necessary and could succeed. Recent years have seen a significant improvement in peacefulness in Cote d’Ivoire, and in 2020 the country improved across all three Global Peace Index (GPI) domains. The Global Peace Index recognised as the definitive source for measuring peace internationally and is published annually by the Institute for Economics and Peace. The story of how Drogba helped to make peace by focusing on the passion for football not only in the Ivory Coast, but across the continent of Africa, is told in these videos. Click to watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byxA6yHfSfI (on call to end the war) and https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15001107 (on Drogba's role on Truth and Reconciliation Commission)
DRC Team protest for peace At the beginning of their match against the Ivory Coast in the semi- final of the AFCON tournament, the DRC team used the platform provided by the globally televised game to protest against the killing of civilians in the east of the DRC. Watch the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXuvsYCb2ws Watch here to see an AL Jazeera Newsfeed about the significance of the conflict https://youtu.be/AM6c70D3o14
Read the story here From Rwanda Dispatch Online 7 Feb 2024
hlight the ongoing humanitarian crisis in their country’s eastern region. The mineral-rich area has been plagued by armed groups, including the notorious M23 rebels, for decades, displacing millions and leaving countless civilians dead. DR Congo striker Cedric Bakambu took to social media, urging the world to pay attention to the plight of his nation, stating, “Everyone sees the massacres in eastern Congo. But everyone is silent.” He called for the same energy used to discuss the Afcon to be directed towards addressing the conflict. The team’s captain, Chancel Mbemba, along with over half the squad, expressed solidarity with the victims in a video, pledging to “play for them”. This was followed by individual messages from players like Gedeon Kalulu, declaring, “I am Goma. I am Congolese. We want peace.” This campaign appears to be part of a larger online initiative driven by Fonarev, a state fund supporting victims of sexual violence in the conflict. It echoes messages shared by popular musicians like Fally Ipupa and GIMS. The conflict is fueled by the struggle for control of valuable minerals like gold, diamonds, and cobalt, a crucial component in lithium-ion batteries. A recent TikTok campaign linked the use of vapes to human rights abuses in DR Congo, as cobalt is a key component in their production. DR Congo, despite boasting two continental titles and a World Cup appearance, has struggled in recent years due to political instability and economic decline. The team’s success in the Afcon has offered a glimmer of hope, with Yoane Wissa, their top scorer, expressing their desire to bring joy to a nation burdened by hardship.