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Ubumuntu Arts Festival Kicks Off Focusing On Resilience

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The fourth edition of Ubumuntu Arts Festival has kicked off bringing together different Africa’s largest performing arts at Kigali Genocide Memorial amphitheatre to share the power of art in building personal and community resilience in the face of adversity.

The kick-off was attended by different artists and panellists including Hope Azeda, the festival curator, Honore Gatera, the director general of Kigali Memorial, Yvonne Kayiteshonga, the mental health division manager of Rwanda Biomedical Centre, and on behalf of sponsors, the Skol brewery marketing director Anita Haguma.

“This year’s edition is about resilience,”  Gatera said that for the families that are still learning how to live after the genocide is a crucial and very personal topic here at the memorial where 250000 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi are laid to rest.

“Survivors continue to search for the strength to keep on and transform their lives and our country. Ours is also a struggle for resilience against hate and discrimination as well as personal and community renewal,” He noted.

He added that seeing the festival return for the fourth edition can only mean that the event is valued by the community and that peacebuilding is an important practice for them.

“Arts remind us that talents can be used to make the world a better place; a complete sense of humanity,” He said.

“It’s my fourth time attending the festival. I am very happy to be part of it, and I am excited for the fourth edition. As a Lighting Designer, I fuse people’s performances – expressions, actions, and words – with light. It creates a strong bond between performers and the audience. Through different but strategic patterns, you convey the message in its true colors. Lighting plays a huge role in the storytelling on stage. This festival is one of the few events that remind me that I’m human,” said Megan Lang, the lighting designer. 

Meanwhile Yvonne Kayiteshonga said that resilience is an important skill. In case of crises in life we are urged to develop a coping strategy. She believes that arts are one of the strategies we can use to rebuild ourselves.

“As we work to find solutions to violence, struggles and other hardships in life, resilience is necessary to reach healing. For a country that has gone through a horrific past, resilience is crucial. Resilience is important for children, youth and adults,” she said.

Ubumuntu was established in 2015. The word Ubumuntu can be defined as “Being Human”.

The festival takes place annually immediately following a 100-day commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

It is held at the amphitheatre of the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre. Festival activities include but are not limited to performances, workshops, panel discussions and genocide memorial site visits.

The festival aims at creating an avenue where people from different walks of life can come together and speak to each other in the language of art. The festival tagline is a quote from Desmond Tutu, “ I am because you are, you are because I am: We are human together.”