IMFURA HERITAGE RWANDA, a local social enterprise that aims to inspire sustainable peace and change, has organised Imfura Heritage Arts for Peace Festival at Kigali Public Library that started on September 21 and will run till October 1. The festival aims to portray messages about peace, mental health, unity and reconciliation, according to Fred Mfuranzima, Founder and CEO of Imfura Heritage Rwanda. The messages are conveyed through paintings, music, poetry and books, adding that the festival consists of an art exhibition, book launches of two titles namely; ‘The Broken’ by him and ‘Wet Under the Rainbow’ by Laurette Annely Akariza. They have also organised poetry and music performances by 10 and 5 artists, respectively. “At the beginning of the festival, we also organised dialogues that brought together people from different sectors including peace builders, NGOs, government and international organisations to discuss the role of arts and youth in peace building, societal change as well as healing,” he said. “We chose art because it makes expressions easier and serves as a great tool to spread messages, especially for young people. At Imfura Heritage Rwanda, we also train different artists on how to use their art to build peace as well as solve community problems.” The contributing painters include Fred Mfuranzima, Jehovanis Muheburayo, Rhema Ndikuryayo, Burasa Benetie and Deborah Dominick, who have crafted 48 paintings. Mfuranzima believes that the festival will inspire the community and provide a safe space for young artists to showcase their works hence presenting their ideas. He also expects a boost for the art industry since it has been undermined in the community, adding that they want to reach more people who can experience authentic local stories told through the arts being exhibited. Laurette Annely Akariza, the author of Wet Under the Rainbow, which is to be launched during the festival, said that the platform is going to serve as a gate that she and other artists have to pass through to share messages that can heal, change and inspire society. “As authors, it is a great opportunity to meet with our people, launch our books and receive their advice, feedback and ideas, in a free space of festival,” she said. “People will have a chance to know and access easily what we do as well as have a good time interacting with other artists and the world at large.” Jehovanis Muheburayo, a painter said that the festival is important for him since he showcases what happened during the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi hence emphasizing the importance of peace and reconciliation among Rwandans. “I expect this festival to serve as an easy way for reconciliation and healing for those who lost their loved ones,” he said. Muheburayo’s paintings tackle the loss of dreams of little children during and after the Genocide and how they had to boostheir talents again to show what they know in order to inspire others. Fred Mfuranzima shared that they want the festival to recur every year.