In a bid to show their commitment to peace in Africa, a huge crowd of more than 40,000 people from Ghana and other parts of Africa and the Diaspora turned out at the Ohene Djan Stadium, in Accra, for the Africa11 vs. World11 Match for Peace, organized by Michael Essien, the famous Ghanaian football player and African Union (AU) Peace Ambassador. This was, undoubtedly, one of the greatest moments of Africa Day celebrations in decades. As the crowd chanted "Africa Unite", "Peace in Africa", a total of 5 goals were scored by the two teams, composed of about 40 active and former African and international football icons who responded to Michael Essien's invitation to join him in the promotion of peace through football, on this symbolic day.
The lighting of the Flame of Peace, presented by the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs, Bience Gawanas, accompanied by Mary Chinery?Hesse, member of the AU Panel of the Wise, Akin Fayomi, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission in Liberia, as well as the skillful display by Rabah Madjer, the Algerian football legend and AU Peace Ambassador, during the first half of the match, crystallized a rare moment of unity of African people and conveyed a humbling image of solidarity for one goal: Peace in Africa.
"Football is a magical game, with an extraordinary capacity to move people and unite communities. It teaches cooperation, teamwork and solidarity, while striving for a common goal, both on and off the pitch", said Micheal Essien. This statement found resonance on Africa Day at the Ohene Stadium.
The Chairperson of the Commission, Dr. Jean Ping, is proud of this initiative, and expresses his sincere gratitude to Michael Essien and to all the players who formed the Africa and world teams for this historic initiative, which is a practical step towards the total mobilization of our people to Make Peace Happen in Africa. He also thanks AU Peace Ambassador Rabah Madjer for his support to this initiative, and commends him for his participation in the game. The Chairperson also expressed his profound appreciation to the Government of Ghana for hosting and facilitating the event, which contributed greatly to its success.
The Chairperson notes that this initiative took place while the Heads of State and Government of the African Union were meeting in an extraordinary session in Addis Ababa, to review the state of peace and security on the continent. All those involved in the Africa11 vs. World11 Match for Peace, have demonstrated that the pursuit of peace should not only be the preserve of national Governments and international organizations, but must also be built by the efforts of ordinary men and women, because achieving peace is a collective responsibility, and all Africans have a role to play in making peace happen, and stand to gain from the achievement of peace.