18 countries to take part in Ubumuntu Arts Festival

Up to 18 countries will take part in the second edition of the Ubumuntu Arts Festival, will run from July 14-17 at the amphitheater of the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Gisozi.

Ubumuntu is Kinyarwanda for “humanity”. Inspired by and created for the sake of humanity, the festival will run under the slogan, “I am because you are, you are because I am”.

The inaugural Ubumuntu Arts Festival (2015) attracted participants from 11 countries and a multi-cultural audience of about 5,000 arts enthusiasts on each of the two days of the festival. The first edition was held from July 11-12 at the same venue.

Following the festival’s immense success last year, the event has grown to have two additional days, one fully dedicated to art for young audiences, and another on women’s topics.

During the four days of the festival, performers from the 18 participating countries will bring the amphitheater to life with captivating pieces featuring; movement, music, theater, dance, projections and acrobatics.

Ubumuntu Arts Festival was created in 2015 by Hope Azeda, the founder and artistic director of the Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company, to act as a catalyst for national and international peace building processes. It is set at the end of the 100-day Genocide commemoration period in Rwanda and indeed was designed to be a part of the national and international genocide commemoration activities.

“Rwanda, with its unique history, is the perfect venue to gather people from all walks of life to reflect upon topics like conflict, peace, and humanity through the medium of art. Art has manifested itself the world over as an efficient form of communicating, expressing opinions, airing issues, and sharing values, about all aspects of life that affect humanity,” she said.

The Ubumuntu journey started when Azeda submitted the idea to the Africa Leadership Project (ALP) as her leadership project proposal in 2014. The overwhelming positive feedback the proposal received is what would later culminate into the festival.

Project Rationale

The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi offers the main backdrop to the festival, which is an exercise in examining human nature.

However, Azeda also draws inspiration from similar tragic happenings from across the globe, including: the September 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in the US where over 3,000 people perished; Kenya post-election violence (2007) where over 1,500 people killed; 250,000 displaced from their homes; the ongoing civil war in Syria.

“Art played a crucial role in tackling Rwanda’s immense post-Genocide challenges, and, therefore, can aid in solving challenges faced by other countries that have suffered or continue to suffer wars and indiscriminate killings,” Azeda said.

The festival opens with a Rwandan/South African collaborative effort that will feature the Rafiki Foundation from Nyamata, the New Life Choir, and local performers such as Peace Jolis and Rosette Karimba.

The Ubumuntu Arts Festival is supported by genocide prevention organization Aegis Trust, which manages the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre on behalf of the Government of Rwanda.

Speaking about the importance of the upcoming festival, Yves Kamoronsi, the Country Director of Aegis Trust, said: “This festival will spread the culture of peace and humanity. It will help artists who come from other nations to visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, and learn about our history so they can become ambassadors for humanity and share a message of peace back home.”