Friday marks the fifth anniversary of the death of National Basketball Association (NBA) legend and South Sudanese Manute Bol.
To mark the occasion, young Sudanese from all regions of the country will compete in the Manute Bol peace builders basketball tournament, which runs until June 27.
Bol worked hard to make the creation of South Sudan as a country a reality, but he did not live to see the independence of the country. He died in 2010 of kidney failure at the age of 47.
South Sudan became an independent nation in July 2011, but just two-and-a-half years later, the country plunged back into internal conflict.
Achuei Chol is the wife of Nicola Bol, brother of the late Manute Bol and one of the tournament organizers. She said organizers and participants hope the tournament will help bring peace to South Sudan.
“I thought about it because Manute Bol was a peacemaker and because of the situation in South Sudan, I thought this is the time to use Manute’s legacy to unite us together,” she said.
Chol said boys and girls representing all of South Sudan's tribes will take part in the tournament.
“I want the young generation to put down the divisions and come together. So I believe that basketball can unite us; it can bring the young generation together,” Chol said.
She described the late Manute Bol as a man of peace who spent his life trying to bring about the creation of the new nation of South Sudan.
“Manute Bol was a man of peace. All his life had been committed to his country, working hard for his people. His dream was to bring better life to the people of South Sudan. Manute Bol would like this young generation to have better life, better education, better country, and basketball was one of his dreams. He put all his money toward this country, and I thought about it and I said, 'Let’s be a touch for Manute to follow his footsteps,” Chol said.
Bol played in the NBA for ten years, from 1985–1995, spending parts of four seasons with the Bullets, now the Washington Wizards; the Golden State Warriors, current NBA champions; the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Miami Heat.
Chol said she contacted all the teams to contribute to the tournament but only the Golden State Warriors donated T-shirts.
"Golden State Warriors is one of Manute Bol’s teams that donated three boxes of their own t-shirts to us. They responded very nice, and we are very happy. We are very happy. We would like for Golden State Warriors to continue to support South Sudanese basketball. We say thank you to Golden State Warriors and to congratulate them for winning the championship after 40 years,” Chol said.