As Rwanda celebrates the annual thanksgiving and harvest day, popularly known as Umuganura, this week, senior officials have challenged the young generation to actively participate in the celebrations and integrate culture in the country’s quest for sustainable development.
Historically billed as an inspiring pillar of dignity and solidarity among Rwandans, Umuganura is one of the most important ceremonies celebrated at the beginning of every harvest season.
Julienne Uwacu, the Minister forSports and Culture, said that celebrating it is one of the ways of preserving Rwanda’s uniqueness. This year’s week-long celebration, which started yesterday and ends on August 3, involves various activities including exhibition of crafts and artisanal products at Kigali Cultural and Exhibition village Camp Kigali.
It also involves a carnival of cultural dance troupes, dance performances, inyambo parade, a night gathering (Igitaramo) known as Nyanza Twataramye, and traditional food sharing (Ubusabane) will mark Umuganura, which was combined with FESPAD, a Pan-African cultural festival.
According to the Ministry of Sports and culture, Umuganura is an occasion to celebrate the country’s achievements in terms of harvest both at the kingdom and family levels. This unique occasion had been suppressed by the colonialists after realising that it was a bond that brought together Rwandans, but later the government re-introduced it.
To date, although cultural dances and recitation of poems is held, the celebration of Umuganura goes beyond this.
Uwacu said that the festivities have been transformed from agro-based harvest celebration to include striking achievements from other sectors that are key to national development (industrial, tourism, mining service harvest,).
Dr James Vuningoma, the Executive Secretary of Rwanda Academy of Language and Culture (RALC), said that the day should not be treated as a mere public holiday
At the community level and family level people should organise themselves to celebrate by sharing festival food, he said.
By doing so, he said, they can recognise the fruits of their daily efforts toward personal development but also as they celebrate they can make reflections on how to improve for the better.
He appealed to the public to also join in the Nyanza Twataramye Cultural Concert (the night before the actual Umuganura celebration) and enjoy top cultural dances and music. Music and dance are considered critical aspects of fostering unity and reconciliation among Rwandans.
Vuningoma also said that taking Umuganura to Nyanza has a significant meaning as Nyanza is considered as Rwanda’s cultural tourism hub. Nyanza town, in Southern Province, is renowned for its unique ancient historical features and it is where the old royal palace of the Rwandan kingdom is located as well as the Rwesero Art Museum, Rwanda’s most prestigious art museum.