During a time when xenophobia attacks were on the rise, Reverend Albert Mbenga formed the Umanyano Africa Foundation in an effort to promote unity in the city of Cape Town.
Reverend Mbenga felt the media and politicians played a role in making South Africa seem very unwelcoming to foreign nationals. As a Congolese man who has been in South Africa for 15 years, he has only had good experiences in the country. However, without dismissing the attacks others have endured, he felt the need to show the other side of South Africa to the world as well.
“Umanyano promotes Ubuntu from Cape Town, that’s where there is hope – the Cape of Hope. Our mission is to use football, culture and art to bring different communities together because we are all one,” said Reverend Mbenga.
Hence the launch of the football tournament supported by the Western Cape Government. The first one was held on Umanyano’s founding year, 2007, and has since grown. From Sunday 19 August 2018, the organisation hosted a tournament that would go on for six Sundays in various Cape Town township stadiums.
“12 teams representing Locals and African Diasporas from Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, DR Congo, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa,” said Reverend Mbenga, “Other interested teams such as Malawi, Tanzania, Namibia could not make it due to kits and logistic challenges.”
Reverend Mbenga wanted to use this initiative as a form of introducing people of different nationalities to one another. It is an agent of social cohesion and acceptance. The organisation uses sports as a conduit of transcending race, gender, nationality, and status.
**Semi-finals will take place on 16 September 2018, and the final on 23 September 2018. An award ceremony will be held at the Cape Town City Hall Auditorium at 18:00 on 5 October.
** correction of dates was made.