The South African athletes currently taking part in the sixth edition of the International Tri Colour Games in Reggio Emilia, Italy, should consider themselves lucky.
They were received by the wife of the late Italian politician, Giuseppe Soncini, when they visited the Oliver Tambo Memorial Park this week.
Soncini made this town a haven for a number of freedom fighters since the 1970’s.
In June 2013, the city of Reggio Emilia celebrated the life of former ANC president Oliver Tambo, with the creation of the park.
Soncini, who died in April 1991, will be remembered for making it possible for the signing of an international pact of solidarity with various political organisations in 1977.
The African National Congress (ANC) was represented by its former president Oliver Tambo.
Bruna Soncini Wife of Giuseppe Soncini says: “A pact that Soncini and Tambo wrote together was a very important pact. Also cited by the United Nations, it is an example of a very unusual form of a pact between a city and a movement of liberation against racism, against apartheid.”
Soncini, who was a member of the Italian Communist Party, died in April 1991, and was honoured post-humously by the South African government five years ago.
“If today we are here with young people who play with many other countries, with many other young people is thanks to this friendship of solidarity,” says Bruno Soncini.
The park does not only attract politicians from across the world, but also ordinary South Africans who are regular visitors here.
Italy’s International Relations, Gianluca Grassi says: “For an example also the under-21 team of Springboks not only politics but civil society everything is relevant here we’ve hosted a lot of representatives from Gauteng, from Ekurhuleni, etc.”
Not far from the giant OR Tambo statue, a Soncini monument has also been created using building material specially imported from Mozambique.
A 30 meter mural dedicated to the life of Nelson Mandela will officially be opened on the 18th of July as part of the Nelson Mandela centenary celebrations.
Chief Albert Luthuli has also been honoured by the city of Reggio Emilia as the first African to receive a Nobel Peace prize.