Tradition, youth and unity: African Games open with a spark

RABAT, August 20, 2019 – The Opening Ceremony of the 12th African Games 2019 was held at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, Morocco.

The Opening Ceremony was hosted by two journalists from different backgrounds. Élé Asu, a French journalist from Nigeria who used to work at Canal + and Canal + Africa, presented the ceremony in English. Co-hosting was the Moroccan sports journalist Jalal Bouzrara who presented in both Arabic and  French. Jalal Bouzrara is the TV host for his own sports show on national television, he is the vice president of the Moroccan Sports Press Association and also a member of the executive committee of AIPS.

The Opening Ceremony began with the parade of delegations. The first nation to appear was the Republic of the Congo who was the host of the 11thedition of the African Games in 2015 which coincided with the 50 years anniversary of the games. The 53 other participating nations followed in the parade.

Some delegations paraded dynamically, waved vividly and danced in front of the crowds such as Cameroun, Nigéria and Democratic Republic of Congo. Tunisia, however,  was hissed at by the Moroccan crowds due to the huge polemic following the African Champions League final which was disputed last May between ES Tunis of Tunisia and Wydad Casablanca of Morocco.

After disappearing from the African Games for 35 years due to political issues regarding the dispute of the Western Sahara territory, the Moroccan delegation was the final nation to parade as the host country. The delegation was intensely welcomed by the Moroccan public who celebrated their national teams. Hosting this competition is for Morocco a part of a political dimension, with also coincides with its return to the African Union and its adhesion to CEDEAO.

Attending Opening Ceremony was the President of the African Union Commission, Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Mohammed VI’s brother Prince Moulay Rachid, the Moroccan Minister of Youth and Sports Mr. Rachid Talbi El Alami and his adviser

The President of the African Union spoke to thank to the Moroccan Kingdom for hosting the African Games on such a short notice, only eight months before their launch. Indeed, Morocco stepped up as hosting country after the original host, the Equatorial Guinea, stepped down.

Prince Moulay Rachid declared the 2019 African Games officially open in Arabic and under the high patronage of the Mohammed VI.

The first oath was taken by Rabab Arabi, a 800 mile and 1500 Moroccan runner who took the athlete’s oath on behalf of the competitors. The second oath was taken by Melvin Brown, president of the Ghana Karate Association, on behalf of all the judges and representatives of the 2019 African Games.

A message of peace was woven throughout  the ceremony from beginning to  end, a movement of sand and wind was displayed on the tower while there was written on the ground “Land of peace” in Arabic

The opening exhibition brought together Morocco, Africa and the games with choreographed dancers representing each sport. To conclude the exhibition, two Moroccan runners entered  the field, running a circuit of the stadium with a torch and lit a line of fireworks which led up the stairs to light a virtual prestigious flame.

This ecological gesture represented where Morocco and Africa stand regarding climate change, out of respect to the earth, and also highlighted the ecological issues that the Africa is facing because of climate change.

The official song of the 12th edition of the African Games  “We Love Africa” was performed  follower by RedOne’s song “Happy Birthday” which was dedicated to Mohammed VI, who celebrates his 56 birthday on the 21st of August.

Finally, Rabat witnessed impressive fireworks of different types and colors as the closing act of the ceremony, while  dancers, musicians and big balloons dsplayed all the 54 nations’ flags.

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