Football – This year’s edition of the biennial African Cup of Nations tournament gets underway in Gabon from January 14, and culminates with the final on February 5. Gabon was named as the host of 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in 2015. The country beat rival bids from Algeria and Ghana in a vote by the Confederation of African Football’s (CAF) executive committee at a meeting in Cairo. Gabon replaced war-torn Libya, who withdrew as 2017 hosts because of the civil conflict raging in the country.
It will be the second time that the country will stage the tournament after co-hosting the 2012 edition with neighbours Equatorial Guinea. Gabon will use four venues for the 16-team tournament: they will be Libreville and Franceville, which were used in 2012, plus Port Gentil and Oyem. President Ali Bongo Ondimba must be commended for developing sports, particularly soccer, which open doors of opportunities for the youth.
Gabon striker and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang beat Yaya Toure to be named African Footballer of the Year 2015 at the yearly Confederation of African Football (CAF) award ceremony. The prolific Borussia Dortmund forward, who received 143 votes to four-time winner Toure’s 136 to win the most important individual soccer prize in Africa, is the first player from the central African country to win the award.
Family – Ali Bongo married his first wife, the French-born Sylvia Najma Valentin, in 1989; she is the daughter of Édouard Valentin, CEO of the Omnium gabonaisd’assurancesetde réassurances (OGAR) insurance company. He has four children: a daughter, Malika Bongo Ondimba, and three sons, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, Jalil Bongo Ondimba and Bilal Bongo.