The Pan African Dance Festival (FESPAD), a biennial cultural event is back and will run from July 29 to August 3rd, according to the Ministry of Sports and Culture (MINISPOC).
Unlike previous editions, this year’s festival will be celebrated in tandem with Umuganura another nationwide event when Rwandans celebrate the country’s harvest.
This week-long activity is organised by MINISPOC in collaboration with various partners. The ministry has also collaborated with a team from Nyanza district in order to prepare for the ‘Nyanza Twataramye’ a local festival that has roots in Nyanza District.
FESPAD is expected to tour all the districts and conclude in Nyanza District on August 2nd. On the following day, Umuganura event will be celebrated at national level in the same district but the event will also be celebrated in all the villages of the country.
The overall objective of the festival is to bring Africans together and promote the culture of peace through traditional African dances. This biennial festival brings together African cultures celebrated through traditional dances for a period of five days.
During a news conference on Thursday at Amahoro National Stadium, Julienne Uwacu, the Minister for Sports and Culture, told journalists that the idea of having the two activities together is because they complement each other.
“The two activities complement each other because the Pan African Dance Festival is also about the dance and culture of Africans. In particular, it reminds us that Africans share many things when you consider the elements within our cultures.” Uwacu said.
Uwacu added that several African countries were invited to the event but so far those that have already confirmed their participation are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Guinea Conakry and Burkina Faso. She said they are still waiting for the dates on which they confirmed to arrive so that they start receiving them.
She said that for this time, Umuganura’s celebration will not solely focus on agricultural produce but will also touch many other activities that contribute to the development of the country. She called upon Rwandans to attach importance to this event and as time for both self-evaluation and goal setting.
“Traditionally, the event focused on celebrating agricultural produce but when you look at how our country is reconstructing, there are many other activities that have played a role in the development of our country in the year we are ending.” She said.
Meanwhile, there is an arrangement for the Rwandan diaspora to celebrate Umuganura. Uwacu noted that the fact that Rwandans are abroad does not mean that they are separated from their culture.
She said that in that regard, the ministry partnered with the ministry of foreign affairs and through the African Union, the invitation message was sent to all the country’s embassies so that they also celebrate that event on the day of their convenience.
FESPAD was initiated in 1998 and its organization entrusted to Rwanda by the African Union (AU) at the 67th Conference of African Ministers in charge of Culture.
Kigali was declared capital of African dance since 1998, just as Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, is known as the capital of African cinema and Brazzaville, in Congo, as the capital of African music.
Rwanda, with the support of national and international sponsors of the African Union (AU) as well as local businesses has decided to organize this festival every two years. This year’s edition is themed ‘Culture, the cornerstone of unity and self-reliance’.