The city of Goma, capital of North Kivu province in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, is hosting its first major sports competition: a karate tournament bringing together five countries from the Great Lakes region.
The friendship tournament aims at promoting peaceful cohabitation with their neighbours in a region overwhelmed by the threat of terrorism.
A Tanzanian athlete, Salha Abdallah Zarafi sees this activitz as one of the best ways to promote peace and unity amongst the youth.
“Karate is a sport that is played in a peaceful way, so when someone loses, they stay calm and everything goes well. What we do here is not war, because we don’t play while being angry. Besides, at the end we smile together, we share and all this shows that we are one.”
Ugandan athlete Martin Emoko, encouraged neighbouring countries to also organize this kind of activity which he says helps to promote brotherhood.
“We would like other countries like Uganda, Burundi or Tanzania to organise this kind of tournament in the future, because here we feel the desire to live together in love and brotherhood and not in war. This tournament brings us together as one family.”
This regional tournament organized by the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo and current president of the African Union, gathers young people who want to promote friendship and peace in the region with their talent.
For Alain-Pamphile Mbaka who is the secretary general of the Congolese Karate Federation “Let’s mentor the youth through this tournament. The tournament, as we said in our message, has the privilege of bringing together young people from all these countries because the Great Lakes region has been a victim of unrest orchestrated by negative forces and terrorists for several decades.”
The first edition of the Great Lakes Friendship Tournament officially started on Saturday, October 23.
For 2 days, the young people from different countries will compete for an ultimate prize called “Fatshi” put in place by the President of the Republic.