Gabon’s President, Ali Bongo, on Friday revealed that the 2017 African Cup of Nations Mascot will be a black panther named ‘Samba’.
The unveiling ceremony of the mascot was held in Franceville, Gabon, and was attended by newly-elected FIFA President Gianni Infantino, CAF President Issa Hayatou and Gabon’s football federation officials.
A statement read: “What could be more obvious to Gabon, whose emblem is precisely the panther and so often represents the country on sporting events across the globe, to have a panther as the mascot of the event that will take place in January and February 2017.
“This panther, ‘Samba’, is both the symbol of strength and power, but also represents a feeling of party and fun, just like the legendary hospitality of the Gabonese.
“In Bantu language, Mbolo Samba means hello, welcome, accompanied by a big warm hug synonymous of welcome.
“Gabon is proud to receive the elite of the African football and with Samba its mascot, the welcome message is clearly displayed. A unity and togetherness message that will ensure the CAN 2017 a moment of peace and brotherhood.”