The First Lady and her host, Rwanda First Lady Mrs Jeanette Kagame will run the peace marathon alongside thousands of athletes and peace enthusiasts from across the world, estimated at over 4,000 people from 35 countries.
The Kigali annual event, now in its 13th consecutive year is the only marathon in the world that promotes peace both in Rwanda and across borders.
The Kenyan First Lady arrived in Rwanda Saturday night where she was received at the Kigali International Airport by Kenya’s High Commissioner John Mwangemi and the local Minister for Sports and Culture Julienne Uwacu among other officials.
Sunday’s event marks the second time that both First Ladies from Kenya and Rwanda will be running together since the Beyond Zero Half marathon in Nairobi on March 6, last year.
During the Nairobi event, Mrs Kagame joined thousands of Kenyans including Deputy President William Ruto, Diplomats, top corporate leaders and renowned elite athletes 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.
Although majority of the Kenyan Athletes are registered for either the 42 km race or the 21 km event, the two First Ladies are scheduled to run a symbolic and non-competition 7 km special “run for peace” race after flagging off the other two events.
The three concurrent events in Kigali are scheduled to start and end at the Amahoro National Stadium where the two First Ladies will also preside over the awards to the winners. Thousands of spectators are expected to throng the 30,000 capacity stadium.
The top winner of the 42 km Marathon will take home Rwandese Francs 2 million (approximately Sh240,000 ) while the winner of the 21km race receives Rwandese Francs 1 million (aboutSh120,000).
The annual Kigali Peace Marathon plays an important part in the country’s journey towards peace, healing and reconciliation after the 1994 Rwanda genocidal mass slaughter of some of its populations where over 800,000 citizens lost their lives within 100 days of senseless ethnic cleansing as the rest of the world watched helplessly.
The peace marathon takes place within the Country’s Kwibuka 23 (that marks 23 years since the 1994 genocide) period that spans between April 7 to July 3 ahead of the country’s Liberation Day on July 4
The general objective of the marathon is to bring together the Rwandans and many people across the World to run in the only marathon with a reference to peace building in the world.
The two First Ladies share many things in common including being commissioners at the Lancet Global Commission.
Each of the First Ladies champions a national cause related to the welfare of women and children. The Kenyan First Lady is the patron of the Beyond Zero campaign whose chief objective is to address the health challenges of mothers and children around the country . The key focus of the initiative is maternal health and child survival.
On her part, Mrs Kagame is the chairperson of the Imbuto Foundation which aims to uplift the lives of vulnerable populations and in particular widows and orphans of the 1994 genocide and impoverished families.
Besides the two First Ladies, other top officials of the athletics family expected at the event include Aziz Daouda from Morocco, currently serving as the Technical Director of Africa Athletics Federation and the President of the Rwanda Athletics Federation Munyandamutsa Jean Paul who confirmed about the number of Kenyans registered for today’s marathon.
Kenyans have dominated all the past 12 editions of the peace marathon including last year where they scooped all the top 6 competitive positions in both the 42 km and 21 km races.