A civil war broke out in Cote D’Ivoire on 19 September, 2002 when troops opposed to President Laurent Gbagbo attacked three cities, including Abidjan.
For five years, the civil war carried on until football showed its efficacy as a balm that heals wounds and a tie that binds everyone together.
It was on June 3, 2007 when Cote D’Ivoire were to face Madagascar in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier and Didier Drogba had asked that the match be played in Bouake, a rebel stronghold.
Being from the south himself, it was an attempt to bring the nation – Cote D’Ivoire – back together. It was very successful at the time, with a 5-0 victory capped by Drogba scoring the final goal to cause celebrations across the whole country.
“Seeing both leaders side by side for the national anthems was very special,” he told the Telegraph, the sole English news outlet that traveled to Abidjan to interview Didier Drogba.
When asked who had supported him in doing so, Drogba smiled and said, “All Africans.” But, above all, I am one of them.
The stadium was filled with cheers and euphoria. This confirmed the conclusion of the civil war. From now on, all fans will receive what the Ivorian footballers promised: “We promised you that the celebration would unite the people.”