It is going to be a busy week, following the launch of different celebratory activities organised across the country.
The activities started on August 1, ahead of the National Harvest Day (Umuganura), which is slated for Friday.
The event, scheduled to take place in Nyanza District at the national level, has been preceded by a week-long Pan African Dance Festival (FESPAD) in four selected districts, one in each province.
Umuganura was co-organised with FESPAD because officials believe that both reflect culture, thus it is a better way to bring together various African countries for a rich inter-cultural exchange.
Umuganura is a traditional feast of first harvest that was widely observed in ancient Rwanda until it was banned by the colonial administrators in the 1920s.
It was meant to celebrate the harvest and encourage citizens to work harder for even a better harvest in the future as well as foster social interactions. It was also a symbol of humility among leaders.
The event also had a religious connotation as it was meant to thank God for the prosperity of the nation and repent before Him in case of poor yields, according to information from the Ministry of Sports and Culture.
According to Julienne Uwacu, the Sports and Culture minister, both events have deep meaning in the life of Rwandans, mainly because they are rooted in the country’s culture and because they are both linked to Rwandans’ daily experiences.
During Umuganura, Rwandans evaluate and celebrate the success as individuals, families and as a country, while FESPAD offers just the flavor of cultural dances.
“We brought them together because Umuganura is a feast from steeped in our culture while FESPAD also showcases culture diversity through songs that reflect African culture, it is therefore, an opportunity to showcase and exchange various African cultures,” Uwacu said.
“What we wish is for every district where the FESPAD caravan will go to showcase their part of culture in away of dances and songs among others,” she said.
She said it is also a great opportunity for businesses to shine and showcase their brands to new and existing customers to increase the visibility of their products.
“Everything is ready, we started Monday with a carnival and concert as part of FESPAD in Kigali and people from various sectors exhibited various products, we will go to other four districts and all of them are ready as we have people from the ministry working closely with the districts,” Uwacu told The New Times yesterday.
The minister said that Umuganura is a vehicle through which to uphold Rwandan values, share harvest among families and bring together leaders and residents as a sign of servant leadership.
“Traditionally, Umuganura is a sign of bringing leaders and the people together, and it signifies humility on the part of the leaders before the people they serve; it is also a time for celebration and bonding between parents and children,” she said.
Rwandans in the Diaspora are also expected be part of the Umuganura celebration this year according to officials.
Speaking to The New Times, the Mayor of Nyanza District, Erasme Ntazinda whose district will be the venue for the national event on Friday, said they are ready to host both FESPAD and Umuganura fetes.
“We are ready to successfully host both events; we have invited more artists who will participate in both events, we have also organised a two-day exhibition in Nyanza and other districts in the province,” he said calling upon people to participate in big numbers.
Kayonza mayor, Jean Claude Murenzi whose district welcomes FESPAD today (Wednesday), said yesterday that they were ready to welcome the guests from various countries to share with them the unique products and also learn from what the visitors will be bringing.
“We have a cultural event locally known as Inkera y’abahizi tonight and and tomorrow (today) we shall exhibit our unique culture of Inyambo Carnival and locally produced agricultural products,” Murenzi told The New Times yesterday.
“We will also use FESPAD to learn from each other and to share with the visitors food and drinks made locally as part of Umuganura,” he added.
He said that the district was also ready to join the rest of the country during the main celebrations of Umuganura on Friday but stressed that this will be done at the village and family level.
This year, Umuganura will be celebrated at family, village, Diaspora, and at national levels, according to officials.
The districts that will participate include; Kayonza in Eastern Province, Musanze in Northern Province, Rusizi in Western Province, and Nyanza in Southern Province, where FESPAD will be concluded on August 4.
Officials said that Rwandans in Diaspora will have a day to celebrate Umuganura in their respective countries.
The theme of this year’s Umuganura is: “Culture, the cornerstone of development.”