Soccer, debt and cocoa: Ivory Coast celebrates Africa Cup of Nations ‘economic miracle’ with lots of chiaroscuro

Noise goes through the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan as the referee blows his whistle to end the match. It’s Sunday, February 11, and Ivory Coast have just beaten Nigeria 2-1 in the final of the African Cup of Nations they are hosting. The Ivorian fans start dancing and the millions of people watching on TV celebrate the night away. Playing at home, in a championship that served to showcase the country’s best side, the Ivorians won the Africa Cup of Nations for the third time in Easter’s particular history. Fourteen days before the final, the team lost 4-0 to Equatorial Guinea and everything was broken: there were clashes between the fans and the police and the football truce between the state and the citizens seemed to be over. A series of results saved them and with the new coach they went through all the rounds until this moment: celebrating the final victory. President Ouattara, in his third term – although the Ivorian constitution limits them to two – takes the field to applause and hands over the trophy. The slogan is clear: today there is no politics, only Ivorians are celebrating.

The fragility of the elephants – the national team’s nickname – is a perfect metaphor for the state of Ivory Coast, which some analysts see as a new economic miracle after a civil war that ended in 2011. A miracle with many chiaroscuro. The country has a growth rate of up to 8% in consecutive years, but also thousands of young people who end up crossing the desert to get to Libya or even arriving by boat to the Canary Islands.

Source: El Diario

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