Friday, June 8, 2007

Ivory Coast and Vanity Fair

If you haven't gotten it already, rush out and purchase the July 2007 issue of Vanity Fair. The issue is about Africa, the people that shape it, the issues affecting it and how we can help.

It's deeply moving. It also features guest editorial duties from U2 singer Bono and 20 different covers featuring 21 different people involved in African issues photographed by famed artist Annie Leibovitz. Truly great work.

In the issue, you'll notice an article entitled Spirit of Africa, where they talk about 'Africans confronting it, their courage, imagination, brains, and grit ... (they are) their continent's hidden wealth.'

Pictured on the first page of the article is Didier Drogba and the Ivory Coast national football team, standing on the pitch before an important match.

The text, written by famed author Billy Kahora, the assistant editor at Kwani?, Kenya's foremost creative arts journal, reads:

Back in early October 2005, when the whistle blew on the last game of Ivory Coast's successful qualification run for the 2006 World Cup, a 3-1 win against Sudan, captain Didier Drogba sank to his knees and led his teammates in pleading for peace back home. Ivory Coast, a West African state, has been divided since a civil war started in 2002 between the eventually rebel-held North and the government-controlled South. Every game 'les Elephants' have played since the beginning of the war has been an encounter against both the opposing 11 men on the pitch and the civil war back home, every trip to the dressing room a quick opportunity to call home and find out the latest news.

With World Cup qualification the team's prayers were answered. North and South danced in the streets for two days. President Laurent Gbagbo, who controls the South, awarded all players, North and South alike, million-dollar villas and honorary knighthoods and called for a truce. For a brief moment the divisive concept of 'Ivoirite,' which excludes most northerners, was forgotten. An ABC/ESPN ad starring the team members and the music of U2 spread the story worldwide, hailing soccer as a universal incentive for peace.

With some recent success in these peace initiatives, Ivorians are starting to have hope in more than soccer. Recently, Drogba, also this season's leading scorer in the U.K.'s Premier League, visited the North and dedicated his African Footballer of the Year award to a united Ivory Coast. Currently, even as the Elephnats cut an early swath in their qualifying group for the 2008 African Cup of Nations, they continue their peacemaking attempts, trying to still the guns of civil war through today's most Pan-African of movements: soccer.

Powerful. Beautiful.
Keep up the good work.

To see the video mentioned in the article, please click here.


Jorge said...

You know, reading your blog has made me respect Drogba a bit more. Being a Manchester United supporter, I've grown to dislike anything associated with Chelsea, from Abromavich's spending spree and Mourinho's arrogance to Drogba's cheating ways. But as an individual, there's more to a football player than how he performs on the pitch, and how can one not respect what Drogba has done for the love of his country?

Cesar said...

Jorge, I feel the same way.
Just writing the blog makes me like the guy a lot more than I would!