Thousands of citizens and well-wishers gathered at Nyanza Stadium in Nyanza District, yesterday, to celebrate the National Harvest Day, commonly known as Umuganura, the second time the Thanksgiving event is celebrated since it was reintroduced as a national day.
The event was celebrated under the theme, “Culture the cornerstone of development.”
The Minister for Sports and Culture, Julienne Uwacu said there is a lot to exploit from the Rwandan culture to spur development.
“Our culture as Rwandans has a lot that we have built on and we will continue to build on along the journey to achieve self-reliance and dignity, the journey to develop and build a firm Rwanda,” Uwacu said.
The highlight of the event was the fusion of Umuganura with the Pan-African Dance Festival (FESPAD), which drew multitudes of artistes from different African countries.
Also at the event, 60 outstanding farmers – two from each district across the country – were awarded for their achievements.
“Our culture has considerable role in the rapid and sustainable development that Rwandans have started. Particularly, we want to use the force that is in our culture, our history, the natural beauty and touristic sites with particular history,” Uwacu said.
She said that all such sites must be identified and developed to ensure they benefit the country in terms of cultural based tourism.
“Umuganura is a day to reflect on the harvest we have registered and celebrate it; it is a day to build strong unity in family between parents and children as well as among the Rwandan society in general. It is also a day to take measures, the day to consider the future, be happy with what we have achieved but also, strive to achieve better,” Uwacu said.
The minister said that following the merger of Umuganura and FESPAD, participating countries; DR Congo, Kenya, Egypt and Senegal had their delegations tour various parts of the country where they entertained Rwandans and got a feel of specific entertainment models of the various parts of the country.
“This kind of union of African cultures should be the catalyst for us to build a United Africa; Africa that has a vision and characterized by partnership and friendly sharing, Africa built on values of Africans’ culture,” Uwacu said.
Minister Uwacu said awarding farmers for their outstanding achievements serves as proof that once people embrace good service delivery and work hard, they can develop their country and faster.
She noted that one can only get good harvest once they are united in their families, and each family member’s contribution valued, calling for harmony among families in the country.
The minister said there is need to strive to increase the produce and what people do.
“As we start a new year; all sectors, be it agriculture, industry or services should take Umuganura as a point at which we sign Imihigo (performance contracts) and these should come up for evaluation on the same day next year,” she said.
Mathias Nzabonimpa, 56, from Rubavu Sector in Rubavu District, was among the awarded farmers.
Nzabonimpa grows bananas on 2.5-hectare piece of land, and he now earns Rwf8 million annually from his plantation and employs six people to take care of the farm.
He said Umuganura is a good time for Rwandans to celebrate what they have achieved through sharing but also share ideas so as to ensure development is achieved collectively.