AFCON 2024! Hosted by the country known for “Premier Gaou”, “coupé-décalé”, and attieke! Or in other terms, the home of Didier Drogba and Yaya Touré. Ivory Coast. It has barely been a week and already, Ivory Coast, or rather, Côte D’Ivoire, is trending all over social media because of the remarkable start to the games. It’s fair to say that the hosts of AFCON this year are successfully making their mark in Africa and across the world whilst popularizing Ivorian culture. Videos of Ivorian cuisine, dances, and of course, music are all over TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. The ever-trending ‘Coup du marteau’ song remains the current anthem for the football games and is the highlight of current TikTok trends in the francophone world.
Aside from their stunning 2-0 opening match against Guineau-Bissau, Ivory Coast is thus far proving to be successful all-round. However, amidst the buzz and spectacular ambience being created, the reality of the football matches has brought some people back down to earth! Among some of the notable surprises we have witnessed in the past days there has been Ghana’s loss to Cape Verde, Nigeria’s equalizer with Equatorial Guinea, and Cameroon’s equalizer with Guinea. Clearly this AFCON is breeding some underdogs, and the games are far from over! In fact, it’s just the beginning! All of Africa and the diaspora waits to see the progress of their team with bated breath. As each game unfolds, it brings with it its fair share of hope, comedy, and drama. And some wins of course. Some countries have a massive weight on their shoulders like Tanzania who stand as the only representation for East Africa, or DR Congo who must prove that there is more to their football identity than victory dances that they can’t use…
Aside from all the fun and games, there is a deeper message behind this year’s AFCON. “Akwaaba”. This means “welcome”. It speaks to there being a place for everyone. Even if your country is not playing or did not qualify, most people feel a sense of inclusion this AFCON and everyone can find their place be it through the exploration of Ivorian culture, or supporting a friend’s team, the “welcome” and unity element of this year’s AFCON goes far beyond a mere call to theoretical togetherness.
This idea of unity and all being welcome in Ivory Coast is highlighted in the official 2024 AFCON anthem representing different identities in the African world. Beautifully put together by Congolese artist Dany Synthé and performed by Magic System (Ivory Coast), Yemi Alade (Nigeria) and Mohamed Ramadan (Egypt) the lyrics read “whether you are francophone or anglophone, we come hand in hand…” “whether you are Maghrebi or from a Portuguese-speaking country, altogether it’s Abidjan’s Africa”.
To borrow a line from the Hunger Games, "Happy AFCON, and may the odds be ever in your (country’s) favor!"