LUBUMBASHI – Red soil and meadows. Trees both big and small, young and light coloured. Signs of a new life that meet us after the machete blows that had struck down the oldest ones utilised to produce charcoal.
To the kids who play with a ball of rags, held together with a plastic cord, it’s a very distant horizon here.
In this fertile red earth we want to lay the first stone of what will one day be part of a city. Of what will in the near future be a sports centre and a stage for the passions that have stayed with us since childhood. The Inter Campus centre will be built here, and will be open to everyone – not just the participants. Open to adults too, and to women. Open to everyone who has dreamed of football, and refused to make war.
It will rise in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The land of the gorilla and ‘Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad, of John Livingstone and painter Cherie Samba. The land of Mohammed Alì and George Foreman, the legendary James Brown and BB King concert and much, much more. Mother Earth, lions, elephants and zebra. Dikembe Mutombo and Mazembe. The land of trees, rivers and birds. Okapi and bonobo. The land yearned for by Italians, Belgians, French, Americans, Chinese, Russians for more than 100 years… by the entire population of the world. But it’s also the land of those who started working iron in the IV century, the land of the Lunda and Tshokwe empires, the beautiful wooden statues and Congolese art that has inspired many artists. It’s the land of the music of Papa Wemba, Tabu Ley and Franco and Koffi Olomide, the favourite musician of Samuel Eto’o. The land of the immense Congo River that links so many of the indigenous people of the forests that cross it before it meets the Atlantic Ocean.
The land of so many people who live in harmony with nature. Nature that is unique and special. As if it’s only nature that can give and take life. A land ravaged by war. But we have no interest in war. We’re interested in finding peace and keeping it. Using sport. And education. With responsible investments as Congo is also a land of tourism, of peace and wellbeing. Here, no matter where a foreigner travels he’s greeted as if at home. In the past this meant unscrupulous Europeans were able to ravage the land, and leave very little behind.
What we’re interested in is describing this land that needs to be visited and loved. Tomorrow, today, now. A land that needs to be respected and that goes beyond what we’ve learnt at school… just forget everything you’ve ever been taught about this land. From now on you’ll discover other things. We’re not here to help, we’re here to learn. If you’re not willing to receive you have nothing to give. It’s a land rich of the raw materials which allow us to live life in comfort and pleasure.
Being here makes you believe racism is just for the primitive mind. It’s not a question of tolerance, as even one person who has no need for anyone else can be racist. Racism means dying young. Today it means living in an Italian cave. Yes, that’s 100% Italian. Where would we be without copper, petrol, gas, coltan and cobalt? We wouldn’t be able to make steel. We wouldn’t be able to have electricity either. We’d be living in a cave, a cave where racists and people who say ‘I’m not a racist but…’ would take us. It’s not a question of tolerance, but of survival. Without integration we’d have already disappeared. If we do not mix with others, with different cultures and people, then the human race would disintegrate into dust and, were we dust, we’d have a tough, hard life. That’s why racism kills. It’s not a question of tolerance. There’s nothing to tolerate. There’s survival, and surviving in harmony with other races is what can save us. In Italy. And everywhere.
Leave the door open for Inter Campus and Congo. Allow us into your homes and we’ll take you to a very special world.