Umuganura festivities to go beyond agricultural harvest

Umuganura celebrations are characterised by sharing of food stuffs like boiled maize. / File

The Minister of Sports and Culture, Esperance Nyirasafari has unveiled the 2019 Umuganura programme that will see Rwandans celebrate achievements beyond agricultural harvest.

Umuganura, also called the National Harvest Day or Thanksgiving Day – is the traditional feast celebrating the first harvest which was used as a platform to assess the harvest for that particular year and find ways of even doubling efforts for the coming year. 

It is celebrated every first Friday of the month of August.

This year’s theme is “Umuganura, the source and foundation of unity and self-reliance”.

About Umuganura

Umuganura dates back to during the time of Gihanga Ngomijana but it came to gain popularity during the reign of King Ruganzu Ndoli in the early years of 1510 to 1543.

With changing times and the economy not depending on agriculture alone, Umuganura has gained a broader meaning, evolving to become a national festival to celebrate the country’s achievements in line with its vision for a more cohesive, united, peaceful and prosperous future.

According to Minister Safari, this year’s festivities will also celebrate achievements made in health, ICT, sports, mining, industries, infrastructure, culture and tourism among others.

It is also an opportunity to think of new ways to attain sustainable development.

Umuganura festival, at the national level, is marked by processions and march-pasts, parades and fashion shows, as well as a set of traditional games.

About the festivities

Nyirasafari explained in a statement that the 2019 Umuganura festivities will be celebrated on the national, district, village, family, education facilities and in the diaspora.

“For those who won’t be able to make it to the celebrations in districts due to long distance, they can do so on the village level where their leaders can update them about the progress made and what the vision is for the future,” she said.

This year’s Umuganura falls on August 2 but before that, there will be a week dedicated to the run up of the main event on the national level which will be characterized by entertainment from different traditional local singers and bands.

The national event is expected to take place in Southern Province’s Nyanza District.

Special Umuganura

While the Umuganura activities have been slightly tweaked over the years, this year’s festivities are expected to be different.

“The 2019 Umuganura is special because it will be dedicated to promoting cultural factories in the country as one of the professions that can contribute to national development and employ youth employment,” she said.

Youth relevance

Commenting on the relevance of Umuganura festivities, the President of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC); Retired Bishop John Rucyahana things like Umuganura can be credited for making the country’s forefathers who they were and should be protected for generations to come.

“We have so many things that are currently distracting and attempting to dilute what we believe in. We need those norms protected and valued because we need them now more than ever.

Umuganura was a celebration of success and life. It was a means of celebrating the oneness of the family, connecting generations to generations,” said Rucyahana.