Thousands of Rwandans living in Rwanda and abroad will tomorrow meet in San Francisco in California to celebrate the country’s cultural heritage.
Organised by the Rwandan community in California and the Government of Rwanda, the event has been dubbed ‘Rwanda Cultural Day’ and is expected to be an opportunity to celebrate Rwanda’s unique culture and its role in transforming the country.
The chairperson of the Rwandan Community in California, Yehoyada Mbangukira, told The New Times yesterday that more than 2500 people are expected at the event, including those coming from Europe, Asia, Africa, as well as from many corners of the United States of America.
President Paul Kagame is expected to grace the event, delivering a speech to attendees in the late afternoon to early evening in San Francisco, which is about nine hours behind Rwandan time.
“We are excited beyond words. While this is not the first time I have seen the President interacting with us in these events, we are very excited for bringing this to us here. The backdrop is awesome and fitting for an event like this. The San Francisco audience is the best consumer for what we have to offer as Rwandans,” Mbangukira said.
Unlike the previous Rwanda Day events, the one in San Francisco has exclusively focused on showcasing the country’s rich culture and traditions.
Everything will be traditional, from dressing, and jewellery to entertainment at what is being described as Rwanda’s first cultural celebration away from home. It will be held at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis hotel.
Through various activities organised during the day, participants will learn about the values that unite Rwandans and the home-grown solutions inspired by Rwanda’s culture that have become an integral part of solving the country’s post-Genocide challenges, ranging from justice and reconciliation, to poverty reduction and accountable governance.
“Our expectation of this event is that we will learn from the experts and from our leaders and, hopefully, friends of Rwanda will gain a deeper understanding of who we are and what we have to offer them. We hope that this experience will whet their appetite for things Rwandan so that they can come and visit our mother country,” Mbangukira said.
Participants will also be entertained by Rwanda’s National Ballet (Urukerereza) that presents authentic Rwandan originality, including traditional songs, theatre, drumming, dancing and poetry.
Remarkably, Rwanda’s signature drumming is expected to light up the event, essentially connecting participants to Rwandan heritage.
Among celebrated Rwandan artistes to perform at the event include legendary traditional songs talents like Jean Marie Muyango, Mariya Yohana, and Intore Masamba, while young artistes and modern singers will include Teta Diana and King James, among others.
Rwanda’s Minister for Sports and Culture, Julienne Uwacu, said that the government has helped organise the event in order to leverage the country’s rich culture for economic and social development.
“Our culture is our identity and we want to build on it to achieve a lot in socio-economic development. Experience has shown us that using our home-grown solutions gave us positive results in a short period of time. The participation of all Rwandans in the process was very active because they owe and value their culture,” she said.
But there is also a business aspect to the event as it will give an opportunity to Rwandan entrepreneurs to showcase their products to a larger audience whose members are critical potential clients.
Some of the local companies that will exhibit at the Rwanda Cultural Day in San Francisco include those operating in sectors such as ICT, agro-processing, art and crafts, tourism, as well as financial services.
“We intend to have a mini-exhibition where Rwandan traders will showcase their goods, mostly locally made products. This is an opportunity to access the international market and it’s also a marketing strategy to network with not only potential buyers but also business partners,” said Stephen Ruzibiza, the Chief Executive Officer of Private Sector Federation.
A part of populous California, San Francisco is a unique city considering that it’s a confluence of culture, technology, and a keenly sophisticated population.
California is regarded as a global trendsetter in various areas, including popular culture, technology, business and real estate services, as well as politics.