Ex Los Angeles Lakers Center Didier "D. J." Ilunga-Mbenga has paid courtesy calls on former presidents, JJ Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor ahead of his appearance at the 2018 Universities, Polytechnics and Colleges (UPAC) Basketball Championship Thursday at the University of Ghana.
Pictures released from the visits show Mbenga towering over JJ Rawlings and the gentle giant (as President Kufuor) is known.
Mbenga discussed the prospect of working with the John Agyekum Kufuor Foundation on charitable projects in the country during a visit on Thursday.
JAK Foundation 80for80 project
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor in February this year launched a campaign to raise GH¢80 million for the JAK Foundation.
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The year-long campaign on the theme: “80for80” is to commemorate the former President’s 80th birthday which falls on December 8, 2018.
The fund will be used to, among other things, construct the Kufuor Centre for Leadership and Governance at a cost of $5 million and the rest invested under an endowment fund.
The vision of former President Kufuor is to establish a peaceful, well-governed and economically sustained society in Ghana and Africa through the promotion of effective leadership.
Mr Kufuor was the President of Ghana from 2001 to 2008. He established the JAK Foundation in 2009 to promote and sustain the development of Ghana and Africa.
Mbenga, a native of DR Congo also paid a similar visit to former President JJ Rawlings on Wednesday at his Ridge residence in Accra.
The two time NBA Champion is in Ghana to headline the B.R.A.I.N. Project which aims at improving spinal and brain patients in the country.
After making an appearance on Ghana’s premier basketball show, “Courtside” earlier in the week, Mbenga moved to Legon to get a feel of Ghana’s most celebrated tertiary basketball competition.
He headlined a Junior NBA program that had several young players from several parts of Ghana’s capital, Ghana participate for free.
Spending time with the youth, Mbenga reiterated the need to train hard and play the game the right way with a lot of passion.
He also encouraged them to follow their dreams and never give up on them before moving to the main court to watch the UPAC games.
He watched the game between Marshalls University College and Ghana Technology University College before departing.
Didier "D. J." Ilunga-Mbenga (pronounced Benga; born December 30, 1980) is a Belgian-Congolese professional basketball player. He has also played for the Belgian national basketball team as he is a dual citizen of both his native countries.
Mbenga was born and raised in Kinshasa, Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where his father was a government employee.