Africa Cup of Nations win heralds a new dawn for Côte d'Ivoire, African evangelical leader says

By CDI Staff |
Africa Cup
Côte d'Ivoire won this year's Africa Cup of Nations. | CAF TV / Youtube Screenshot

The recently concluded Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), a month-long football tournament hosted in Côte d'Ivoire, proved to be far more than just a sporting event. Dr. Master Matlhaope, the General Secretary of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA), visited Abidjan during the tournament and described it as "a display of unity, meticulous planning, and a global meeting point."

Beyond the matches, Côte d'Ivoire, with an estimated population of 25 million, faces significant socio-economic challenges. The country, classified as a low-middle-income nation, ranks 171st out of 188 countries on the Human Development Index. Nearly half of its population lives below the poverty line. It has endured periods of civil strife, including conflicts in 2002-2007 and post-election violence in 2010-2011, which claimed thousands of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands.

Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, post on X signified the mood of the nation, “Ivory Coast are African Champions! ....thank you to the people of Côte d'Ivoire and to all those who made this CAN of hospitality such a resounding success!”

Reflecting on the tournament, Dr Matlhaope said, "I listened to the official song during the opening ceremony of AFCON and was taken by its words that say we are gathered in Côte d’Ivoire to celebrate life as a family. These words are serious statements that resonate with what AEA stands for: the unity of the continent. We should build on this oneness; all Ivorians and Nigerians are celebrating this oneness, and all nations who participated in the competition are celebrating the unity of their countries.”

“But now we need to look beyond football. The world and AEA have seen the potential of Côte d'Ivoire. It takes both governments and the faith sector to collaborate, to work together. Not only is the Church focused on the spirituality of its followers but also on the holistic ministry. Where there is no peace, God is concerned, and the Bible says, 'Blessed are the peacemakers.' Where there are orphans, the Bible says God is the Father of the fatherless. Where there is poverty, the Bible says those who take care of the poor are partners with God."

Master Matlhaope with Cote d Ivoire Deputy Chief of Staff Amani Ipou Félicien
Association of Evangelicals in Africa General Secretary Dr. Master Matlhaope (right) with Côte d'Ivoire's Deputy Chief of Staff Amani Ipou Félicien at the Presidential Palace. | AEA

“We have had close to 2 Billion people watching AFCON globally. We should be proud as Africans and the next one will be even better,” CAF President Dr Patrice Motsepe said. “The success of Africa depends upon Africa working together, trading together, and in football, countries competing and playing together.”

Dr. Matlhaope congratulated Cote d'Ivoire for successfully hosting the competition, which received praise from the international community for its organization. He extended special congratulations to the country's leadership, particularly President Alassane Ouattara, on behalf of the evangelical community during an official meeting with the Deputy Chief of Staff Amani Ipou Félicien held at the Presidential Palace on the eve of the final.

Dr Matlhaope emphasized the potential for continued collaboration in fostering unity, development, and peace.