Testing the reconciliation process on a football playground in Côte d’Ivoire!

I must start by sacrificing to a ritual due to the fact that we have buried 2011 and welcomed 2012. So, to make it short, I wish you all the best in 2012. Also, may God give you the necessary strength to overcome 2012 challenges.

Thus, jumping on this word “challenges” obviously, there will be lot of them at individual, personal, professional, familial, countrywide, sub-regional, regional, continental, and at the universal level!

At a restrictive level, we are going to ask ourselves how to manage to keep our current jobs or get promoted, buy a new car, marry a second wife/husband for polygamous/polyandrous, build our houses or merely get our daily food!

At a wider level, for who followed attentively international affairs developments in 2011, it is easy to foresee that huge and diverse challenges mark out 2012.

In fact, what will be the follow-up of Arab springs as well as transitional processes worldwide and mainly in Africa? Will the international community put the same level of energy and determination into wiping away “reluctant” regimes and individuals?

Should we expect that world leaders will inspired by a Holy Spirit show more commitment to climate issues after the Durban summit gave birth to a mouse?

Will Barack Obama be reelected? What about Sarkozy in France? Will a country like Senegal with a renowned tradition of democratic transition and peaceful hand over of political power eat away the tiny pride of Africa on the path of “democracy”?

Will Jean ping be reelected as the African Union Commission’s Head? And will Hissene Habre be surrendered to a “Western criminal court” by the African union while Omar Bechir is still hanging around Africa with the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant as “joke”?

Will Nigeria pops into as many states as there are secession movements? What is sure there is that Boko Haram is determined to give blank nights to President Jonathan! All we wish is that his Goodluck chases away those who still think that blind violence on innocent populations will take them to their point.

So many questions that will apparently not find answers here due to the fact that I stopped net at the eve of the New Year 2012 to play the soothsayer! This is one of my biggest commitments as each of us does normally while celebrating the French “Saint Sylvestre”.

Coming back to the challenges of 2012, I decided to treat the specific case of Côte d’Ivoire (I apologize because I know it could be easily equated with selfishness and even chauvinism, but far from it, it is because of the interesting trends ongoing in this country for more than a decade now).

In fact, this relatively small and once peaceful country in West Africa grew up in terms of occupying the international sphere at the highest level; all this being echoed by the entire media diversity.

Where on earth has not had in its media its bite of the Ivorian post electoral crisis and subsequent civil war?

Fortunately, that is far way now and the country is “governed” by its President or at least by the President with whom the international community is comfortable with! Huh! I am touching a critical issue that I have to leave as quickly as I mention it! We will tackle this another day when I feel like ears and minds are in the mood of listening and analyzing!

So, President Alassane Ouattara is governing effectively since half a year now and it seems like things are going well as far as his worse opponent and challenger former President Laurent Gbagbo is sent to political retirement at the Hague confinement waiting to know if Bensouda will dig deeper than Ocampo in the dirty laundry of Côte d’Ivoire. That also, I forgot to cite it- is one of the questions to be answered by busy 2012!

Lot has been done by the actual president of Côte d’Ivoire backed by his friends the Western to try a comeback of a country which economic capital was in the past “Small Manhattan”.

At least, school have resumed, even if public universities closed for almost one year now are expected to reopen somewhere in October 2012! By the way, I hope these long long holidays will kill definitely the naughty trade union of students (Federation Estudiantine et Scolaire de Côte d’Ivoire, FESCI). Equally, let hope that persisting rumors of the existence of a similarly in methods and practice  organization are going to be taken seriously by authorities to kill the snake in the egg before it take over the defunct powerful student trade union ( I myself , while student and witnessing deeds of this trade union, had continuously questioned to determine whether or not being student is a job or a profession to the extent that one should have established a trade union for students- I would have preferred an association instead!).

Roads are being built or refined, major changes including the organization at the eve of the New Year of an ever witnessed fireworks in “Africa excluding South Africa” (to quote it organizers).

Thus, slowly things are working out in a country where it was few months back dangerous to step out.

This means that there is hope for Ivorians and all peoples living in this country. This hope is so high that a horde of crocodiles deemed that it was time for them to step out on the 3rd January 2012 so that world can witness the comeback of the country as the first mythic President Houphouet Boigny dreamed. For neophytes of the Ivorian politics, let me recall that Houphouet Boigny nickname was the “crocodile of Yamoussoukro” , Yamoussoukro is the capital city of Côte d’Ivoire and the hometown of Houphouet who had a deep love for crocodiles to the extent that he actually set a farm of these redoubtable saurian in an artificial lake around his gigantesque residence in Yamoussoukro.  So when I am not queen to leave meaningless the sudden apparition of the reptiles in Abidjan, you guess why? But again, I promised not play the charlatan here, so I stop it there!

All in all, Côte d’Ivoire has a better face! Hope is permitted and Ivorians have started dreaming of a second title of the African cup of nations. The Elephants, so is called national teams in sport, the soccer team Elephants feel like it is high time that Didier Drogba leads them to the top level in this competition! That will for sure let Ivorians forget about hate, sorrow, mourning, revenge, vengeance that smell in social media when they displace the debate on the web!

Didier Drogba, who who says himself/herself a passionate of football as England invented it could assert that Didier Drogba  the blue of Chelsea is not a star and wonderful at his job as striker? So, Didier wants to do more than he did till now because he contributed to lower tensions between the North and the South by among others imposing actually that an international match which was supposed to be played in Abidjan be disputed in Bouake the capital of the then rebellion! Didier wishes to use what he is good at to reconcile Ivorians with their past and gives them hope based on forgiveness and fairness! By the way, I think he is more determined as Charles Konan Banny the conciliator in chief has co-opted him to be member of the National truth and Conciliation Commission ( I still want to know the action plan of that institution apparently mumbling at this stage!).

As I talk about football, it leads me to the game played on Thursday 5th January 2012 opposing two teams of a particular aspect as these were the government led by President Alassane Ouattara and Prime Minister Soro Guillaume and the Ivorian Football Federation in charge of football business in the country. The match was witnessed by millions of Ivoirians in the stadium and via the national television.

The game was organized to officially mobilize the nation to fully support the national team to compete from the end of January 2012 the famous African Cup of nations in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. This objective was totally met as Didier Drogba the captain of the national football team was in the tribunes to follow the game.

However, another goal was reached, the need to bring back the fun and cool temperament of Ivoirians who are used to make fun of whatever desperate fate! Indeed, it is my view that the dinosaurs of the regime wanted to softly prospect the chances of the reconciliation process.

So strategically, the idea was to relax Ivorians and turn them away from politics by crystallizing their full attention on the sport they like the more: football!

I do find this ingenious as long as it does not shy away the real issues in the country such as security of individuals and goods, education, rule of law and so on!

I browsed to catch the pool of social media users on the organization of this game and it is likely that the tension that uses to be noted among two opposed clans has lowered somehow!

My concern now is why the match was organized on a working day leading to the total paralysis of the public administration as well as the perturbation of the private sector! For a country that needs to work more and more to catch up, I think more attention must be paid to issues like that in a way to balance between the priorities and avoid losing working day when it is possible not to.

I agree that the game was worth to launch effectively the reconciliation process, and to end on a funny note, I would have liked President Gbagbo to lead one of the opposed teams and maybe the match would have had more interest and do you think President Alassane would have scored so easily?