The African Cup of Nations wound down Sunday as Gabon President Ali Bongo’s mother sang for fans and giant images of the tournament’s football-playing gorilla mascot were projected onto the pitch in a high-tech closing ceremony.
American singer Akon was also part of the show.
Patience Dabany, the country’s former first lady, performed the event’s theme tune to kick off the ceremony at the country’s new Stade de l’Amitie as performers ran across the field with the flags of the competing countries.
The president watched from the VIP section as his mother entertained the crowd before a white sheet was laid across the entire playing surface and giant images of the African continent, the country’s former president and Gaguie—the gorilla—were projected.
There was also fireworks at each end of the stadium and across the top of the two massive white arches. Brightly colored holograms appeared behind the goals.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter earlier presented a pennant to both host countries’ presidents, Bongo of Gabon and Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Brazil great Pele was also at the stadium, where Ivory Coast was to play Zambia in the deciding game.
The biggest roar at the nearly full 40,000-capacity Stade de l’Amitie came when an image of a smiling Omar Bongo, the country’s late president and Ali’s father, appeared over an outline of the African continent.
There was a brief delay as staff had to fix a gap in the white sheet before the projection show, but the crowd responded with delighted cheers to the brightly colored images that appeared in front of them.
The images included the gorilla, waterfalls and lush tropical jungle scenes and a view of the earth from outer space, which then narrowed in on Africa and, ultimately, Gabon.
It’s estimated that Gabon—a central African country with a population of just 1.5 million—has spent between $600 million and $790 million on the 23-day football tournament it shared with oil-rich neighbor Equatorial Guinea.
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