Born in 1994 in Bandundu, a city in the west of the Republic of Congo, he was discovered by Anicet Lavodrama (Spanish naturalized center, born in the Central African Republic and player of Ferrol for 8 seasons, 3 in the Forum Valladolid and 1 in the Youth of Badalona) in a campus organized in the sub-Saharan country in his continuous search for discovering new values.
In 2010 he played the V edition of our Tournament. At that time, he was 224 cm tall, with a wingspan of 245 cm and wore a 56. He had arrived in Badalona a year earlier, accompanied by another Congolese player, Webber Lufanga, with more projection than Bienvenu.
On 1 March 2010, the DKV Seguros Foundation and Juventud financed an operation for a tumour in his pituitary gland to reduce the future effects of his illness, Acromegalia, similar to the gigantism of players such as Roberto Dueñas or George Muresan.
Bienvenu had previously played for a team in Kinshasha, the same team as Dikembe Mutombo.
On February 23rd of this year with Anicet Lavodrama and Carlos Jiménez, journalist of Solobasket, who were the two people who had direct contact with Bienvenu, we created a WhatsApp group with the Spanish Association of Acromegaly and the CDE Portus Victoriae, to follow Bienvenu’s life and the possibility of incorporating him in Santander socially and professionally.
However, his physical characteristics, his pathology… made it difficult for him to have a productive life as an adult, who wants to cover his needs and help his family.
Anicet hoped to give him this possibility, because Bienvenu was then living “in the big city of Kinshasa, which is quite cosmopolitan. Culturally, he would have no problem, only having an environment where he could feel he had a chance to earn a decent living. What was traumatic for Bienvenu was not when he arrived from Kinshasa to Badalona, but when he had to return to the Congo without having been able to finish his baccalaureate, or any vocational training, and without being able to continue playing basketball without a salary or real prospects of earning a living”.
Bienvenu managed to start two projects in 2018: a small tobacconist’s shop (drinks, chocolates, newspapers and soaps) and a vegetable garden for potatoes and cassava. But the impacts of the Covid-19 restrictions forced him to abandon these projects.
In order to spread the knowledge of Acromegalia among the participants of the Tournament, through a brief talk with the members of the Association before the opening ceremony of the Tournament, we wanted Bienvenu to accumulate all his personal experience, since he arrived at Juventud, one of the best historical quarries of our basketball, and to collect as much material as possible, including, if possible, some pictures of him that could be part of a small supporting document.
Shortly afterwards, we learned through Anicet that Bienvenu had tuberculosis, but he was already undergoing treatment and we thought that, as he was still fighting to get ahead, it was still possible to achieve the goal we had set ourselves.
But on the 2nd of May he could no longer maintain his fighting spirit, which the best pivots have, and he passed away.
The CDE Portus Victoriae would like to thank the Spanish Association of Acromegaly, whose conference is still on, Jordi Martí, coach and friend of Bienvenu, who has maintained a personal relationship with him over the years, providing him as much help as he could, Carlos Jiménez, one of whose articles on Bienvenu was the starting point of our project, and to Anicet Lavodrama, a person I did not know and in whom I have discovered personal qualities above and beyond his professional career, for having allowed us to share the illusion of all of us to have achieved the best for that Big Boy who, deep down, was Bienvenu Letuni (DEP).
Gabriel Pérez Penido
President CDE Portus Victoriae