Ikaze Night Party ushers in Ubumuntu Arts Festival

Choreographers performing at festival last year’s festival.

Ikaze Night is a precursor to the annual Ubumuntu Arts Festival, whose 2019 edition kicks off today, July 12, at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Amphitheater.

The event is organised primarily to celebrate artistic talent, and raise funds towards the cause of the festival, which is free entrance.

The evening features a series of cultural and contemporary performances to celebrate culture and talent from around the world. Some of the performances are usually a sneak peak of the performances scheduled for the festival stage itself.

This year, Ikaze Night Party will be held this evening at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village (KCEV), which hosted the event last year. The expanded performance list includes Rwandan songbird Lillian Mbabazi, who will headline the performances backed by her Sundowners band.

Also lined up for the evening are, Under The Surface band from the Netherlands, Street Dancers Company (DRC), the Rwanda National Ballet (Urukererezo), Generation25 (Rwanda), Unidance (Rwanda), and Alexander Star (USA).

Alexander Star headlined last year’s Ikaze Night, thanks to his collaboration with Rwandan artists on “Show Me The Way”, the theme song for last year’s edition of the festival. Star is an Emmy-nominated independent singer, rapper, and social influencer based in Florida, USA.

Under the Surface is a Dutch band formed by drummer Joost Lijbaat, guitarist Bram Stadhouders Jim Black, and vocalist Sanne Rambags.

Festival organisers first introduced the Ikaze Night at the 2017 edition of the Ubumuntu Arts Festival, two years after the festival was first staged. The first Ikaze Night was staged at the rooftop of the Kigali Heights complex.

“Ikaze Night is an experience to be more, to breathe more. It gives you an experience of the cultural and traditional feel of things; it is where we loosen up, because we are not tied to just the theme of the festival,” said Hope Azeda, the festival curator, adding that: “The kind of performances we take to the festival are not the performances we take to Ikaze. For example you cannot find traditional dance at the genocide memorial, but Ikaze Night is open and free to that. It’s an open space to celebrate culture in different forms.”

“This is also a time for our sponsors to be celebrated and appreciated, because we have limitations at the memorial in terms of branding. At Ikaze is where we do a customized act for the platinum sponsor,” she noted.

During the evening, one can also pick up some festival souvenir like branded caps and T-shirts at a small fee that again goes to the cause of the festival.

It is also a space where festival participants coming from abroad get that casual experience of what Rwanda is about before they hit the festival stage.

“Usually when they come, they just do tech rehearsals, perform, and return home, but how do we give them a ‘Visit Rwanda’ tour in three hours and in the same space? So we take them on the Rwandan journey in this evening. It’s a space where our participants are stress-free, also a space for learning and sharing about different cultures,” Azeda added.

Tickets to the event go for Rwf15,000.

A female chorographer takes centre stage.

Actors take action on stage.

Songbird Lillian Mbabazi to headline Ikaze Night Party tonight at Kigali Conference and Exhibition Village. / Courtesy

The event features a series of cultural and contemporary performances.

Ubumuntu Arts Festival brings together performers from different parts of the world.

Ubumuntu Arts Festival will also showcase live acts from professional performers.