From the Graveyard to Glory: The Redemption of the Elephants


As the clock struck 21:42GMT in Abijan, Cote d’Ivoire, and midnight approached in our hideout which I shared with Gragory Gandwa somewhere in Itsananaland, a historic battle was underway between two giants of the African jungle – the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire. The African Fighters Championship of Noble Warriors (AFCON), 2023 edition, convened by the Confederation of African Fighters (CAF), had reached its thrilling conclusion under the watchful eye of Mauritanian game ranger, Dahane Beida.

In the ring side of the Very Very Important Poachers (VVIP) section, among the distinguished attendees were Alassane ‘Cocoa Kingpin’ Ouattara, the one and only Grandmaster of Diplomatic Chocolate, the supreme Chief of Cote d’Ivoire. Others included, the CAF Chief – Dr. Patriso Motsapa, the jewel in Africa’s crown along with the Chief of the International Association Fighters Federation (FIFA) – Gianni Infantino – the Maestro of the Beautiful Game.

Prior to the final whistle, the tension in the Alassane Ouattara Gymnasium, named after the Chief himself, was palpable as the Elephants fought back from behind like a fighter possessed with a ghost of failed dictator, to secure a magnificent victory against the highly favored Super Eagles, claiming their third AFCON title on home soil.

The celebrations that followed were nothing short of euphoric, with Ivorian ex-warrior Dadier Dragba leading the jubilant crowds in wild dance and cheers. Seydou Koné, better known by his stage name Alpha Blondy, trailed from the back doing his protest song Sweet Fanta Diallo. The unexpected presence of Chief Ouattara on the field added to the surreal atmosphere, as he joined the victorious Elephants in their moment of triumph. Some say, the Chief had to be there to avoid an earlier scenario where a kick for the Super Eagles was reversed during a fight with some EFF boys – Bafana Bafana. It was finally revealed the Chief was gifting the warriors cash and houses. Who could blame the Chief?

Despite facing setbacks and challenges throughout the tournament, including two defeats in the group stage, that led to retired pathologist Wota Nyamulamunda from Lawilasi village, signing off the Elephant’s death certificate, Dadier Dragba insisted the Elephants were still alive and needed not be buried and forgotten in the first place.

“Our Elephants are not dead yet,” declared Dadier Dragba as he led a group of villagers around the gymnasium.

They say colour is blind. As expected, the Super Eagles, saw dead and buried Elephants hopefully revealed to them in a pre-match screening by the abundant prophets the kingdom has. It was then not surprising that Chief Bola Tinubu tasked his Vice Chief, Kashim Shettima with leading a team to the supposedly funeral service for the Elephants.

True to Dadier’s word, the Elephants, after they were exhumed from the last 16 graveyard, showed renewed resilience and determination to finally emerge victorious against the Super Eagles.

The fight revealed a tale of redemption for the Elephants, with goals from Kessie and Haller securing their dramatic comeback victory. The FIFA Chief lauded their performance, noting that they were the better team on the day and fully deserving of their win.

The Super Eagles, on the other hand, were left to rue their missed opportunities and lackluster performance.

It was a fairytale ending for the Elephants who flirted with disaster, as they went from the brink of defeat to glory in front of their adoring fans and esteemed Chief Ouattara. The journey from the graveyard to glory was a testament to their fighting spirit and unwavering belief in their abilities.

For Nigerians, it was a painful journey returning home wounded and with unused truckload of branded t-shirts that were embodied ‘champions’ for a win that was prophesied and highly anticipated but never saw the light beyond the pulpit.

As the celebrations continued into the night, it was clear that this victory would be remembered as a defining moment in Ivorian fighting history. The Elephants had proven their worth on the grandest stage, leaving a legacy that would be cherished for years to come. Welcome on board the modern day Lazarus