Masano means "games" in Lingala - a Bantu language spoken mainly in the Democratic Republic of Congo ©Kinshasa 2023

Masano has been unveiled as the official mascot for this year's Francophone Games in Kinshasa which aims to "reflect the Congolese spirit".

The mascot for the ninth edition of the Games is a leopard - an animal which features on the emblem or the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Leopards is also the nickname of the DRC's national football team.

Masano means "games" in Lingala - which is said to be the second-most spoken language in the country behind French.

"[The leopard] is part of the coat of arms of the country and expresses vigour, strength and power," said Bokongo Christ who created the mascot.

"It is therefore only natural that the mascot should reflect the Congolese spirit.

"It's all about games, fun and relaxation.

"Masano will be there to bring gaiety, joy and good humour to the public.

"Good times in sight during these Kinshasa Games."

Masano is dressed in a purple top and yellow shorts that aim to reflect the warm atmosphere of the Francophone Games.

The shorts also feature Kuba art which originates from the Kuba Kingdom.  

"Of all the great pre-colonial kingdoms of the DRC, only that of the Kuba survived the colonial era," a statement from Francophone Games organisers.

"It was one of the most organized (sic) and structured kingdoms in the history of the DRC.

"Kuba art symbolises not only strength but also the noble and sacred value of Congolese art.

"Masano therefore reflects both the culture of the host country and the festive spirit of the Francophone Games."

Kinshasa is scheduled to stage the Francophone Games from July 28 to August 6.

The Games had originally been awarded to the Canadian cities of Moncton and Dieppe in New Brunswick, but were switched to Kinshasa for 2021.

They were initially postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and had been rescheduled to take place in August 2022 before being moved again to 2023.