African News Journalist Yannick Djanhoun recently had an opportunity to engage African’s football legend and former Ivory Coast and Chelsea striker Didier Drogba on various topics. Radio54 African Panorama hereby presents an excerpt of the football legend’s views concerning Africa, a continent the legend has so much passion about.
Yannick Djanhoun: What is your opinion on African in the last five years?
Didier Drogba: The African continent, even though it is late on several aspects such as governance, is a continent in the making. I think that as a whole, we are making progress. When you look at the average age of the people, it is a young, young and dynamic continent. In my opinion, there has been a clear improvement over the last five years, because Africa is now desired by everyone. Now, of course, It is up to our leaders to see what is at stake and to get to work on the essential pillars of development, which are health and education. Of course, I am not an economist, but I think that a simultaneous evolution of the main sectors can be done. Finally, I think that it is difficult to give an opinion on Africa in general, because each country has its own specificity, its traditions, and its culture, which differ from one country to another. And I think that it is imperative to take this into account.
Yannick Djanhoun: 2021, just like 2020, has been marked by the Covid 19 pandemic. In your opinion, what are the levers that could enable us to stay on our feet despite everything? What could enable African countries to remain standing despite everything?
Didier Drogba: The African continent has been very lucky overall, we were rather spared, when you compare it to other countries, other continents that were affected by this pandemic. However, I think we have to continue to raise awareness and to improve our health systems, as this will enable us to save lives, not only in relation to this pandemic but in relation to any other disease that is hurting the continent. But we have to emphasise all social distancing, and of course, the vaccine that is also available to the population, but which is creating controversy. I think that in a way, it is necessary to get vaccinated. There are no reasons to be reluctant because it is about the survival of our species. And I think that people who have been vaccinated today are less at risk. The best way to eradicate this disease is to get the vaccine and to take the appropriate measures by respecting social distancing.
Yannick Djanhoun: Let’s talk a bit about you and your perspectives. What are your hopes and wishes for the next five years, not only for all the works you do on the ground through the Didier Drogba Foundation but also for your hopes for African countries?
Didier Drogba: My hope for African countries for the next five years, or even ten or twenty years, is that we can have a stable Africa, with less and less conflict, which will allow the population of a continent that is very young to take its destiny in hand and avoid fleeing to the West, with the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea which costs lives. This is one of my hopes for the continent. A youth that is at the heart of all activities and development of our countries. It is true that each country has its particularity and specificity. But as a whole, these young people must be uplifted. These young people must be supported and guided, and I insist on very important sectors such as health, education and employment generation so that we can keep our young people on our land and develop our respective countries with their knowledge. I have a lot of hope for this continent through programs like the one that will be launched with the Didier Drogba Foundation. The digital literacy program where over the next five years, we plan to make more than 3 million people on the Ivory coast literate. And of course, to take this project to the sub-region and the entire African continent. So this is our way, as the Didier Drogba Foundation, to contribute to the development of the country and especially our continent.
Yannick Djanhoun: And finally, how important do you think it is for the continent of Africa to have an independent Pan-African media?
Didier Drogba: Well, yes of course it’s important to have independent media to provide quality information and especially to inform our people of what is going on in the world.
The media are crucial to the evolution of a continent, or a country. They can play a very, very important role in conflict resolution, in calming down situations, and in all areas, whether it be in Sports, Politics, Health, in Education. I encourage you African journalists and media practitioners to keep on doing what you are doing.
By Eric Knight