The Ministry of Sports and Culture and the National Itorero Commission have organised a weeklong civic education programme for local artistes to give value to their contribution in national development through their creativity.
More than 200 artistes, including musicians, artists, traditional dancers, actors, writers, poets, comedians, fashion designers, event organisers and photographers are in the first batch undergoing the course at Nkumba Peace and Leadership Training Centre in Burera District.
As part of efforts to reconstruct Rwanda and nurture a shared national identity, the Itorero, among other homegrown approaches, was reintroduced in 2009 to rebuild the nation’s social fabric and mobilise Rwandans to uphold important cultural values.
Many Rwandans ascribing to professional groups have been taught in the core values of the Rwandan cultures and its role in national development.
But in the latest decision to target artistes, the organisers couldn’t have chosen a better professional grouping. This is because, world over, artistes touch the hearts of the people in ways that others can only dream about. Through creativity, their messages are often cross-cutting and deep.
That explains why it is in artistes that even politicians turn to attract and woo the public. Added to the fact that artistes are often celebrity figures with huge following, their messages are far-reaching, but could be dangerous.
This is because not every artiste knows how to package the ideal message to their audience. They need to know what the Rwandan culture holds esteem, especially in the face of the often morally-low Western values that are all over the public realm.
So, where, for instance, artistes would begin to think that sexism and certain clichés would gain them audience and boost their bank balance, the Rwandan values would have no place for it. The artistes themselves are Rwandans before they are professionals.
In the civic education course, the country is creating opportunities for artistes to enhance positive values, build a sense of responsibility through patriotism and gain professional knowledge, as, like the artistes themselves said before their departure, the training will help them learn from one another and discuss how to make the creative industry stronger.
The National Itorero Commission has trained teachers, administrative executive secretaries, farmers, community policing committees, members of the Diaspora community, students, among others, but in artistes, the organisers will get the values spreading deeper than ever before.