Football is Africa’s most popular sport. A new “Play for the Union” campaign aims to use the game to engage citizens with the African Union and hold it accountable…
The campaign is part of the State of the Union (SOTU) Coalition, which was formed by ten pan-African organizations from ten countries. It is a unique multi-sectoral monitoring group that aims to hold African governments accountable for the ratification and implementation of African Union decisions – so that they have tangible impact on African communities.
A key factor in the coalition’s work is the frustration with the slow speed of integrating AU declarations into national policies, laws and budgets. Currently, important policy debates on the livelihoods of African citizens do not involve broader public participation. Concerted public pressure and united political will are needed at both continental and national levels to make the AU a reality in the lives of ordinary citizens.
At the moment, SOTU is running a campaign called Play for the Union, which intends to use Africa’s most popular game – football – to bring together citizens from all over Africa, to discuss and reflect on the type of continental integration that would make a difference in their lives and what matters to them.
Participants were directed to apply on the SOTU website, and 11 players – citizens from across the continent – are now attending a coaching session in Addis Ababa by two legends of the African game: Patrick Mboma of Cameroon and Nwankwo Kanu of Nigeria.
A football match will be played at the African Union Summit in Malawi in July. It is expected that a few AU ambassadors will substitute their suits for football jerseys and join the players in playing this momentous match!
A social media campaign will accompany the match, and hopefully this will begin a beneficial conversation between African citizens, the AU and their home governments on how AU decisions and protocols can be implemented.