Ivory Coast has been split in two since rebels seized control of the north of the country in September 2002, underlining a north-south divide that has dragged the country into the mire.
Ivory Coast's football team has players from both north and south
Since then the country has slipped from the "African miracle" of the 1970s and 1980s to a divided nation that makes the news for all the wrong reasons.
The national football team, the Elephants, are determined to help change that.
As a start, the team qualified for the World Cup, a first in Ivorian history, thanks to a last-day win over Sudan and Cameroon's draw with Egypt.
That sparked roars of joy and a weekend of partying in both the government-held south and the rebel-held north of the country.
The Elephants were each given a luxury house by the head of state, Laurent Gbagbo, and were warmly congratulated by the rebels and the opposition parties.
The team were aware they had a unique opportunity to plead the cause of unity.
Dropping to one knee in the changing room after the decisive match, the captain, Chelsea star Didier Drogba, led his team-mates in a plea for peace.
Captain Didier Drogba led his team mates in a plea for peace
"Ivorians, we ask for your forgiveness," they said. "Let us come together and put this war behind us."
The players, who come from both the north and south of the country, are regularly held up as an example the rest of the country can follow.
Ethnic and political differences are put aside in the interests of team spirit, and the results are a shining example to all - or at least, so goes the theory.