War-ravaged streets of Bouake reemerges

Edwin  - CEO February 4, 2024
Updated 2024/02/04 at 4:40 PM
3 Min Read
Bouake Stadium, venue of Nigeria vs South Africa Credit Cafonline
Bouake Stadium, venue of Nigeria vs South Africa Credit Cafonline

Into the glittering stage of TotalEnergies CAF AFCON



Football delivers results, and the transformation in Bouake, the second-largest city in Côte d’Ivoire, is undeniable.


In September 2002, the city was ravaged by the Civil War, as troops took control of the Northern Part of the West African country.


This marked a significant turning point in the lives of the people. What was once a vibrant city had been battered and scarred.


Bouake became a shadow of itself, with child soldiers patrolling the streets in armored tanks and occasional gunshots at night, instilling fear that the troops were taking over the city.


Stade de la Paix, a stadium used for the 1984 TotalEnergies CAF AFCON, served as an execution site during the civil war, according to locals.


To unite the people of Côte d’Ivoire, Stade de la Paix hosted the country’s game against Madagascar in June 2007 in the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON 2008 qualifiers.


Twenty-five thousand fans witnessed Côte d’Ivoire winning the game 5-0, marking a significant turning point.


“It was interesting when the game against Madagascar was played. We were all tense when the announcement was made because of how things were ongoing here,” said a witness.


Two decades later, the story has completely changed. Bouake is hosting Africa’s flagship football tournament, the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON Côte d’Ivoire 2023, at the renovated Stade de la Paix, now with a 40,000-seater capacity.


Once a rebel base, the city is now welcoming Africa’s football community. These days, it’s all pomp and pageantry.


Beyond the beauty of the football witnessed here, the town has become a significant beneficiary of the byproducts of an AFCON that has provided infrastructure, an economic boost for locals, and upliftment of spirits that were once in the woods.


The fairytale excites many locals who have witnessed both sides of Bouake.


“You have no idea what the current state of Bouake means to us. We are very excited to see people moving freely without any fear; this is a great feeling,” said a native of Bouake.


The beauty and unifying force of football is evident in Bouake, a testament to how the game brings people together.


As the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON wraps up soon, there will be much to reflect on and be proud of.


For indigenes and the more prominent Ivorian people, the fireside chat will be about how football once upon a time came to town and changed everything.


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