Sunday, February 12, 2012
Ivory Coast and Zambia playing for a healing of their Nations
Zambia’s ascent to the highest level of Football in the African Continent at the 28th edition of the African Cup of Nations brings back to memory a fateful incident that happened to the Zambian National Football squad of 1993 that died off of the Coast of Gabon when the plane they were flying in crashed into the Gulf Of Guinea shortly after takeoff from Libreville Gabon enroute to a game in Dakar and unfortunately and ironically the itinerary for that flight was scheduled for them to make their next stop in Abidjan Ivory Coast before continuing their flight to Dakar.
The crash was a tragedy of tremendous proportion that is only now coming to the fore as every media outlet covering the AFCON 2012 are printing stories on the incident or talking about it on radio and television. The Zambian people experienced a great loss that was a loss for the rest of Africa as well as the world. Tragedies where an entire team die are rare and devastating. Interestingly enough the President of the Zambian Football Association Kalusha Bwalya was the only surviving member of that team who was not on that flight from Zambia but was supposed to join the team from the Netherlands.
Today on the eve before the Finals of the African Cup of Nations in Gabon everything about that tragedy has come full circle Zambia will play in Libreville Gabon the place of the tragedy and they are being led by the only surviving member of that tragedy in Kalusha Bwalya who as I mentioned is the President of the Zambia FA today and they will be playing the team from the Country that was supposed to be their next destination. Whatever kind of metaphor this is I hope it brings some closure to Kalusha Bwalya, the Families of the Players (Wives and Children) who survived their deaths, the Zambian players on the current national squad and the people of Zambia.
Ironically as I mentioned above Zambia will be playing the Ivory Coast, the next destination on the itinerary of that team of 93 and the Ivory Coast are as well a team that are playing for the healing of their nation, which went through a brutal civil war that raged between 2002 and 2004. The loss of lives was tremendous and the war left a legacy of a divided nation that still prevails today. The national team has been instrumental in fostering détente especially in 2006 when upon qualifying for the FIFA World Cup they convinced the then President, Laurent Gbagbo to restart peace talks that had stalled and in 2007 the team played a match in the then rebel capital of Bouaké a moment that brought fighting factions together in celebration of their national pastime.
Recently in 2011 Captain of the Elephants Didier Drogba was appointed to be on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission an appointment he readily accepted. One of the undisputed facts about Didier Drogba is that he is such a patriot and its hurts him so much to see his nation go through what it went through with the war that when he was asked to serve on the commission he did not even ask any questions or doubt whether he wanted to be on the commission or not he readily gave his word and now with an opportunity to further unite the people of the Ivory Coast with winning the AFCON 2012 Trophy and help the nation heal the Elephants will do whatever it takes to bring home the trophy when they take on the Chipopolo boys of Zambia.
Both Nations are deserving of a healing and we hope that whoever loses finds it within themselves that getting to the finals alone is consolation enough to help with the healing process that both these nations need.