Congo's powerful protest in the Africa Cup of Nations, gun to the head during the anthem: the meaning

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Congo's powerful protest in the Africa Cup of Nations, gun to the head during the anthem: the meaning

Sensational protest by the players of the Congolese national team shortly before the historic semi-final against the Ivory Coast. In the minutes before the kick-off they raised one hand to cover their mouth and the other to their temple, mimicking the barrel of a weapon. All to denounce what the Organization for Migration has defined as “the most serious humanitarian crisis in the world”

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The players of the Democratic Republic of Congo national team have chosen the most visible and impactful international audience to demonstrate their protest. They did it during their national anthem, just before the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final against Ivory Coast : one hand covering their mouth and one at their temple to mimic the barrel of a gun . A gesture with a very strong symbolic meaning against the violence and atrocities underway in eastern Congo, one of the countries most affected by internal wars.

After the show of Oshimen 's Nigeria who reached the final of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations, managing to beat South Africa in a crazy match which saw a daring epilogue at the end which only ended in a penalty shoot-out, shortly after it was Costa's turn of Ivory and the Democratic Republic of Congo. With the first national team undoubted favorites for the last place in the final, carried away by their fans, while the second team is an authentic outsider which has reached a milestone that is already historic in its own way.

An unequal match, at least on paper, but one that the Congo players deserved to play after an excellent first phase and a path that saw them find themselves among the best four strongest footballing nations on the continent. And so, the whole team, with the support of the bench, the technical staff and the French coach Sébastien Desabre, wanted to take advantage of the visibility of the event to denounce what is tearing the country apart, namely the civil war between the army and the M23 rebels who caused thousands of deaths and forced a large part of the population to abandon their homes.

Since the end of 2023, there has been a ferocious escalation of violence, especially in the eastern part of the country: the number of internally displaced people in the Democratic Republic of Congo has quickly reached the record figure of almost 7 million people in recent months. A borderline situation that has also moved the International Organization for Migration to denounce: “Due to the conflicts and the increase in violence” it was written in one of the latest press releases “the country is facing one of the most serious humanitarian crises in the world” . Hence the protest from the national team players. Silent, but with a deafening noise.

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