5 African Footballers Who Shunned Politics and Excelled

5 African Footballers Who Shunned Politics and Excelled


Former Inter Milan midfielder McDonald Mariga greets fans in his Hummer H3 in 2010. PHOTO: Courtesy

McDonald Mariga has come under sharp criticism after he was fronted by Jubilee to run for Kibra Constituency.

With a section of Jubilee leaders recanting their support for the former football ace, Mariga is facing more hurdles on his political journey than he had probably foreseen.

Tuesday morning, Wajir MP Fatuma Gedi questioned the motive of the former footballer for joining politics.

“He can’t even express himself,” stated the MP.

Rise to Stardom

Mariga burst to international limelight after he became the first Kenya to play in Italy’s Seria A. He would also accompany Inter Milan to a successful final against Bayern, though he didn’t get an opportunity to play.

“It’s every player’s wish to play in any final of the Champions League. Yes, I was a little disappointed, but again, there is always the second chance,” Mariga said in 2010 after he brought business to a standstill with his Ksh10 million Hummer H3 in Nairobi.

Mariga also owns a fleet of cars including a Land-Cruiser V8, BMW X6 and a white Cadillac Escalade with a custom number plate- Mariga 17.

The former Harambee star’s player also owns an 8-bedroom palatial mansion in Lavington and another beach house in Malindi’s billionaires’ exclusive residence.

Speaker Beatrice Elachi said Mariga was better placed to serve and give back to the community when he had an international platform.

Other African players who continue to make a difference without even joining politics include

Didier Drogba

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Drogba interacts with village children PHOTO: Courtesy

The former Chelsea top scorer is actively engaged in his country Ivory Coast where he is credited with building 5 Hospitals, an orphanage and being involved in peace processes in the highly-charged West-African country.

Drogba made headlines when he donated to charity all his endorsement earnings starting from a $5 million Pepsi deal.

 Michael Essien

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Michael Essien

The former Chelsea defender is reported to be participating in community development projects in Ghana, with the highlights being constructing libraries and donating drugs and hospital equipment.

Through the Michael Essien Foundation, the former star has managed to drill boreholes for drinking water and constructed public toilets in Accra.

He is currently AU’s peace ambassador, helping in conflict resolution.

Samuel Eto’o

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Samuel Eto’o (in cap) visits a sick patient. PHOTO: Courtesy

The former Barcelona forward is involved in awarding scholarships to bright but needy students in Cameroon.

He is also credited for donating ambulances and medical aid to ill-equipped facilities in the country.

Eto’o is also proud to have built several sports academies across West Africa to nurture talent.

Sadio Mane

 Sadio Mane was spotted in his home village in Senegal checking on the progress of a school he's funding the construction of

July this year, Sadio Mane was pictured checking the progress of a school he had channelled tens of millions into.

This came after the Liverpool forward had commissioned another project to build a modern hospital in his village in Bambali, Senegal.

Nwankwo Kanu

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Nwankwo Kanu when he visited Kenya PHOTO: Courtesy

The former Super Eagles star Kanu has contributed towards the airlifting of over 1000 poor kids with heart conditions for treatment abroad.

Having been in a near-death situation on the pitch himself, Kanu continues to campaign against terminal illnesses throughout Nigeria.

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