When thinking of the Olympics, it is easy to focus on winning medals, but Olympic core values go a lot further than excellence. They call for respect, friendship and peace. As we saw in the opening ceremony of the Tokyo games, the Olympic motto has recently been updated so it now reads ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together’ with ‘Together’ being a new addition. This word reflects a key value of GLO partner Foundation Charles Nkazamyampi.
Charles Nkazamyampi was the first Burundian to become a world-class finalist in his sport, winning a silver medal in the 800 metres in the 1993 Toronto World Championships. Shortly before racing, he heard the terrible news that his parents had been murdered. He still went ahead and ran for his country. After completing the race, he was asked, “So did you win for the Hutus or the Tutsis?” His answer was simple, “No, I ran for all Burundians.” Charles went on to compete in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
Since that time, Charles has forgiven his parents’ killers and has come to faith. He is now an ambassador for peace, and his foundation is dedicated to raising a new generation of Burundian leaders who embody the Olympic values.
Recently, Foundation Charles Nkazamyampi (FCN) took part in an Olympic event for the school children of Bujumbura. The National Olympic Committee and Play International, along with Ambassadors for France and Germany, arranged a day of races and activities, which even involved a race between Charles and the French Ambassador. As you’d expect from an Olympian, Charles won!
The day was a great success. In brightly coloured T-shirts, the children proudly paraded around the Intwari Stadium before competing in various athletic events. Forty-seven journalists attended the press conference afterwards, which was an excellent opportunity for Charles to share more about the foundation’s work.
One of the ways that FCN encourages young people is with their ‘Peace Cards’. As we know, peace is a vital cornerstone for unity between different ethnic groups. The card represents a commitment from the holder to peaceful resolutions to conflicts and motivates them to become leaders in their schools and communities. By signing the card, they are promising not to be manipulated, for example, in the build-up to elections when tempers run high.
Everyone attending the event, young and old, signed a card for peace, and the National Olympic Committee committed to implementing a project promoting Olympic values in children’s organisations.