Vivicittà Uisp: For the first time in Kinshasa – Democratic Republic of Congo09 April 2008

The Vivicittà – the major marathon organised byUisp (Unione Italiana Sportpertutti), which is staged simultaneously each year in numerous cities across Italy and around the world – took place for the twenty-fifth time on Sunday 6th April.

The fact that this time the Vivicittà reached Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is one of the new features of this year’s event, which is devoted to “peace, human rights and the environment“. The race in Kinshasa was held in the Masina community in the East of the city (in the Tshangu district, one of the most turbulent areas of the Congolese capital) and over two thousand people took part.

Staging the Vivicittà in Kinshasa was made possible thanks to an organisation that the FARE network got to know well during the last Action Week, namely Lisped (Ligue Sportive pour la Defense de Droits de l'Homme), chaired by lawyer Alain Makengo Kikandou.

Lisped has been working proactively in the Democratic Republic of Congo for many years with projects combating racism in football and in sport in general and on reintegrating the victims of war, using sport as an agent for peace. The organisation is one of the backers of the newly formed African Network of Sport for Peace.

The Vivicittà is made up of two competitions: a race over 12 kilometres, in which 400 athletes participated in Kinshasa, and a fun-run over 4 kilometres, in which 2,000 people took part. Lisped also organised a highly successful 2k run for disabled participants. Over the next few days, it is also planned to hold a stage of the Vivicittà inside the city’s prisons.

Daniela Conti, on behalf of the International Division of Uisp, and Livia Dusatti, from Peace Games, Uisp’s non state-run organisation, were in the Democratic Republic of Congo for two reasons. On the one hand they were following the marathon as representatives of Uisp, while on the other they were doing a ‘micro’ feasibility study in relation to future projects of international collaboration in this area.

It was a very emotional experience – reports Daniela – to see so many people running through the narrow lanes of Masina in their Vivicittà shirts“.

As well as being a huge success with the public, the Vivicittà was followed with great interest by the media and by the Congolese authorities in the person of the Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Willy Bakonga Wilima (who was visiting Masina for the first time), Masina’s community administrator, Mafulu Kaputu, and the presidents of the Olympic Committee and the Athletics Federation.

The winners of this first Vivicittà in Kinshasa were Naomi Katouka from the women and Lufumba from the men.

(layla mousa)