The National harvest day also known as Umuganura means is a public holiday in Rwanda, observed on the first Friday in August. This year’s Umuganura was celebrated on August 5.
Also known also as Thanksgiving Day or National harvest day, it is a celebration of the beginning of the harvest.
Umuganura means ‘first-fruits festival’ and can be dated back over a thousand years. It is one of the most important festivals and holidays in Rwanda.
The importance of a good harvest in Rwanda cannot be overstated with 80% of workers employed in agricultural activities and agriculture accounting for nearly 40% of Gross Domestic Product. Tea and coffee make up nearly 80% of Rwanda’s agricultural exports.
Despite its long history, Umuganura has only been a public holiday since 2011. Its celebration was suppressed during Rwanda’s colonial period.
The focus of the traditional Umuganura was to give the harvest the blessing of the ancestors. This would happen first at a family level focused on that family’s ancestors, then the community would come together to have a wider celebration.
Nowadays, while the festival is still seen as having a focus on the harvest – giving thanks for the current year and a time to think about how to improve future harvests, it is also an opportunity for a yearly celebration of achievements from all sectors that contribute to the development of the country.