Rwanda’s first lady Jeanette Kagame will on Sunday welcome her Kenyan counterpart Margaret Kenyatta to flag-off the Kigali International Peace Marathon.
The marathon which is in its 13th edition is expected to draw thousands of athletes from across the world. An estimate of 6000 athletes, diplomats and peace enthusiasts from various countries are expected to take part.
The two First Ladies are scheduled to run a symbolic and non-competitive 7 km special “run for peace” race after they flag-off two other events; the 42 km full marathon and the 21km races.
It will be the second time both First Ladies from Kenya and Rwanda would run together after the Beyond Zero Half marathon in Nairobi on March 6, 2016.
During the Nairobi event, Mrs. Kagame joined thousands of Kenyans including DP Ruto, to complete the 21 km half marathon for which the Kenyan First Lady is known for in her campaigns to mobilize resources for the innovative Beyond Zero initiative.
Over the last four and half years, the First Lady has run four successful Half Marathons in Nairobi and London and also trained for the events in Japan, Ethiopia and various parts of Kenya. She has set a global record for her commitment and participation in running the marathons.
The international peace marathon will be preceded by a Peace Torch Relay on Saturday that starts at Rwanda’s memorial site in Nyanza region to the Amahoro Stadium. The three concurrent events will also start and end at the national stadium where the two First Ladies will also preside over the awards to the winners.
The top winner of the 42 km Marathon will take home Rwandese Francs 2 million (approximately KSh 240,000) while the winner of the 21km race receives Rwandese Francs 1 million (about Ksh 120,000). All the previous events of the Kigali peace marathon have been dominated by Kenyans.
The annual Kigali international peace marathon plays an important part in the country’s journey towards peace, healing and reconciliation after the Rwanda genocide in 1994 where over 800,000 Rwandese lost their lives within 100 days of senseless ethnic cleansing.
But despite that dark spot in its history, Rwanda is fast becoming a model of peace in Africa characterized by vibrant growth and development and a deliberate effort towards nationhood that collectively rejects profiling its citizens by their ethnic identification.