Artistic collaborations as Great African Caravan reaches Rwanda

Akram Feroze, the project manager of the Great African Caravan makes a point at a press conference at Mamba Club on Wednesday. Courtesy photos

A group of 12 multidisciplinary artistes from across the globe is in Kigali to hold artistic collaborations for the Rwandan chapter of the project.

The Great African Caravan (GAC) team touched down in Kigali on Monday November 26, ahead of their week-long artistic engagements in the country.

As part of the project, the team is travelling through 12 African countries on a road trip that will last a total of 200 days. So far, Rwanda is the 5th country to be toured by the caravan.

The team set off from Cape Town, South Africa in August, travelling through Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, before coming to Rwanda.

With the aim to connect people across the globe and embrace the philosophy of global citizenship, the Great African Caravan project in partnership with UNESCO takes 12 international artists for 200 days through 12 African countries. The artists are drawn from India, Argentina, Kosovo, Germany, Uganda, and the UK.

In each country visited, the caravan collaborates with local artists to co-create multi-disciplinary works on locally relevant topics under the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Akram Feroze, the Artistic Director of the Great African Caravan, described it as a project of global citizenship.

“The aim is to raise awareness, learn from one another, and connect. The main idea for the project was to have people of different identities in order to tell the world that no matter where we come from, we all go through similar struggles. We collaborate with local artists in every place that we go. We work with them to create different art forms, which represent our emotions to the local social contexts. In brief, we’re trying to talk about one world and about global citizenship while promoting the UN SDGs.”

Helene Hasler, a German national and the Project Manager described the project as challenging but worthwhile.

“To be in each country and to learn so much really takes a toll. There are so many influences you get that you have to process and understand, but it’s very exciting at the end of the day. We’ve learnt so much already, every country, and every collaboration is different.”

Gala Soler, a saxophonist from Argentina revealed that she was touched by the project’s philosophy and joined six years ago.

“It’s been amazing, challenging, and it’s not easy sometimes but I love it. It is my first time on the continent and I think Africa is so vibrant and has so many things in it in terms of culture, music, and history. I meet musicians, we talk and collaborate, we try to work with a theme in each country, and we do music and art with a social approach, which is really important. I talk about my country and the different rhythms and sounds from it.”

Ife Piankhi from the UK described herself as a poet and educator who is social and community minded.

“I use the creative arts to deliver learning on any theme. With this combination of skills, I thought I would be an asset to the project, which is very organic.

“When trying to build communities, which is what we are trying to do, a certain foundation needs to be in place, and for me, that foundation is creative facilitation. It’s a process of experiential learning, which happens predominantly in groups, and allows people to feel safe, and encourages them to express their ideas and feelings.”

In Rwanda, the artists are working under the theme of Identity.

AFROGROOV, a local creative company is partnering with the caravan for its Rwandan chapter. Some of the local artists on the project include; Deo Munyakazi, rappers Angel Mutoni and Prime Mazimpaka, visual artists Bruce Niyonkuru and Innocent Buregera,  as well as dancer Alexander Chito Lwambo. Also taking part are local filmmakers, instrumentalists, graphic designers, writers, and creative facilitators.

For four days, the artists will engage in dialogue, share skills and knowledge, and create unique collaborative art works.

Today, November 30, there will be a main showcase at the Impact Hub in Kiyovu.