The return of Kina Festival

Kina Festival is in line with the national objective to develop and support strategies that promote creative industries, cultural tourism and children and youth’s development in Rwanda.
Mago, a Korean play is among several other productions that will staged at Kina Festival. / Courtesy

International performing artists from different countries across the globe are set to bring an atmosphere of entertainment to Kigali, as they gear up for the fifth edition of the Kina Festival, an International Festival of Performing Arts for the young audience.

Themed, ‘The Art of Collaborations and Re-generation’, this year’s edition—that will start from May 15 to 19, marks the 10th anniversary of the festival since its inception in 2009. The festival takes place once in two years.

The festival is organised by Ishyo Arts Centre, a member of the Rwandan Association for Theatre and Youth (ARTEJ), that aims at developing children and youth’s creativity and access to arts, and at the same time, reinforcing capacity and giving exposure to young professionals through appropriate high-quality workshops and performances by renowned international artists.

Kina Festival is in line with the national objective to develop and support strategies that promote creative industries, cultural tourism and children and youth’s development in Rwanda.

Organisers told The New Times that this year’s festival will be a joyful cultural event that will celebrate the youth and the Rwandan culture.

Preparations are underway and so far, 10 international and regional performances by young artists from South Africa, South Korea, Italy, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Congo, Belgium, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo have already been confirmed.

“We are 85 per cent ready for the festival as of now. Some performers have already jetted in while others are on their way. It is really important that we learn to work together and see how we can develop, more and more, the creative and artistic collaborations between African countries. And, of course, we are open to other continents like Asia and Europe,” said Carole Karemera, the creative director of Ishyo Arts.

Carole Karemera, the creative director of Ishyo Arts, explains to the media how the festival is organised. / Eddie Nsabimana 

She said this festival will mostly focus on the young generation and is eager to welcome many students from different schools as they look forward to inspiring and engaging them to be part of the creative industry.

“We want kids to see shows that have been created and crafted by African artists and also see African arts on stage and be inspired to create, even at their age, or start to project themselves in writing or publishing books or something else to ensure they are proud of the creative world. We not only have to be consumers but also create, express and share the cultural relationship that we have with the rest of the world,” she said.

With plenty of performance in store, Karemera said people will be able to attend performances at two venues in Kigali, namely Kigali Cultural Village and Kigali Public Library.

“We need to see and express, especially to the youth, the way we look at the world, how we feel about the world and stage shows that are basically more connected to the realities that the young people are living in,” Karemera noted.

Rwandan youth and professional arts groups will present their work at the festival, during which they will also attend workshops and mentoring programmes, led by international artists from Norway, Italy, South Korea, Belgium, DRC and Rwanda to help them improve their skills in creative writing, set design, theatre direction, puppetry, dance and music, among other creative skills.

Other highlights of the festival include ‘Developing Theater for young audience in the African context’, which will bring together over 100 participants, like culture and education experts (university lecturers, practitioners and artists), as well as students from eight countries to discuss the role of creativity and arts education in children and youth’s development and public education.

On the other hand, more than 10 performances for an audience of more than 4500 children between one and 18 are also expected as this year’s edition.

“The festival will showcase what has been created in the period of two years. It is a challenge because we expect to have very many performances. The thing is that we are really working to, first, celebrate 10 years, secondly, it is really important to collaborate with other countries, especially African countries, in doing what we love most and share it with the rest of the world,” Karemera added.

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