Bad news for Chelsea fans – Didier Drogba might be a little distracted this season. In addition to battling Fernando Torres for his place in the team, he also has an entire country to unite and a whole lot of bad guys to forgive as the highest-profile member of Cote d’Ivoire’s new Truth and Reconciliation Commission. By SIMON ALLISON.
Truth and reconciliation commissions are the must-have accessories for any kind of post-conflict government these days, popular as much for their lofty ideals of forgiveness and reconciliation as for the get-out-of-jail-free cards which they dole out to grateful rapists and murderers.
Cote d’Ivoire is no exception. Even while the new administration of Alassane Ouatarra is locking up pro-Gbagbo officials and journalists, and allied militias stand accused of extrajudicially killing off soldiers who fought on the losing side, a TRC is being established to heal the wounds of the bitterly divided country.
But, in addition to the usual mix of respected jurists, religious figures and academics which make up such panels, Cote d’Ivoire has added a little star power and international attention in the form of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba. Outtara apparently thinks that in addition to bagging 20-plus goals a season, Drogba can help return peace to the country.
This isn’t as crazy an idea as it might seem. Drogba was one of the few figures who transcended Cote d’Ivoire’s political divide, and his captaincy of the national team was marked by two genuinely brave moments. After a 2006 World Cup qualifier, Drogba got down on his knees in the changing room and made a historic appeal on live TV for his countrymen to lay down their arms and live in peace. Later, on his request, an African Cup of Nations qualifier was played in the northern rebel stronghold of Bouake, the first time since the start of the war the national team played in the north.
It’s unclear exactly how Drogba will juggle his footballing commitments with the work of the TRC, which starts on Monday. DM
- Soccer star Drogba to join Ivorian truth commission on Reuters Africa;
- The power of football – how Didier Drogba united a country on AllAfrica.