Rwanda is doing an excellent job to keep its culture alive while balancing tradition and modernity. Raoul Rugamba, the founder and managing director of Hobe Rwanda events has been at the forefront of an initiative to take culture to the next level.
He organises the Hobe Rwanda events to promote and preserve Rwandan traditions while educating the youth. This year’s event took place on September 5 - 6 at the Petit Stade and Serena Hotel.
On day one of the festival, Petit Stade was turned into a cultural village. There was a lot of dancing, singing , playing games and learning about different traditional music instruments.
The second day of the event, which was held at the Serena Hotel, consisted of beautiful dance performances targeting people of all ages. A lot of emotions, enthusiasm and laughter were part of the evening which made the audience travel deep into Rwanda’s traditions to connect with its culture.
To the delight of the audience, the first artiste to come on stage was the talented Mighty Popo with his soothing voice. Steeped in Rwandan tradition, his songs were nothing short of beautiful. He was followed by big names in traditional music who have been around for a long time, such as Muyango, Mariya Yohana, Massamba, Julienne Gashugi and Timothy Ngombwa.
Towards the end of the evening, Teta and Emmanuel, two young Rwandans passionate about traditional music, also joined the party.
Rugamba encouraged Rwandans to engage more with local culture, and listen to the words of the wise ‘parents’, in other words the cultural artists performing that night, for ideas.
Rwanda’s Prime Minister, Anastase Murekezi, graced the event and in his speech, he encouraged the youth to listen to the artists in order to learn more about local culture. Learning about the stories of their ancestors and their heroism is essential, he said pointing out that even the national anthem talks about culture. Most importantly, culture is key in promoting unity amongst Rwandans and reconciliation.
Once the Hobe Rwanda event came to an end, I went around the room asking young Rwandans what they thought of it. Impressions were positive and shared.
Cyaka Ndoba, 30, said that Rwandan culture is something that is not taught enough to the youth nowadays, and that is why this kind of event is key in reminding them where they come from and who they are. “With all these images of the West, we sometimes tend to forget about our culture, especially if our parents lived in exile and we were born abroad. It can be hard to understand it, let alone learn it”.
He adds that it is important for Rwandans to follow the footsteps of the elderly, keep learning from the likes of the artists who were performing, and most importantly, feel proud of their culture.
As cultural artistes are getting older, time is even more precious, and Rugamba is well aware of that. His biggest wish for the coming years is to see Rwandan culture attract the Diaspora back to the country but also to see it getting known, recognised and appreciated by people all around the world.
“Our greatest success tonight, was to witness this traditional Rwandan touch which was never seen on stage to this extent before,” says Rugamba on a positive note.