The right to preserve and promote culture

Culture is an important aspect of every society. And Rwanda is one of the few countries in the world that are privileged to have a language and a culture that are familiar to a large percentage of the population.

The preamble of the Constitution of Rwanda points this fact out and says that the privilege should enable Rwandans to “have a common vision of our destiny.”

To this end, Article 11 of the Constitution says, “In order to build the nation, promote national culture and restore dignity, Rwandans, based on their values, initiate home-grown mechanisms to deal with matters that concern them.”

What this basically means is that Rwandans should be self-reliant in solving their challenges. This is because when people or countries adopt foreign solutions, they lose sight of who they are and what they want. But by continuously making reference to the morals, values and culture of Rwanda, long-term solutions can be found.

In order for Rwandans to make reference to their culture, they need to first understand it. And understanding comes through participation. For this reason, Article 36 of the Constitution of Rwanda statuses: “Every Rwandan has the right to activities that promote National Culture and the duty to promote it.”

Further still, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child makes a special provision for children in regard to participating in culture. Article 12 paragraph two of the Charter states: “States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to fully participate in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.”

There are several ways to participate in cultural activities at school and at home. The most basic way is learning and mastering Ikinyarwanda in order to communicate effectively with fellow Rwandans. One can also learn about the heritage and traditions of Rwanda and then promote them through music, dance, and spoken word.

If children don’t get an avenue to learn, preserve and promote Rwandan culture, it will not be passed onto the next generation. This will be detrimental to future efforts to use culture as a unifying factor.

The duty of the government to preserve and promote culture is done through organs such as the Ministry of Sports and Culture whereby cultural activities such as Umuganura are regularly organised.