Fespad: A showcase of African culture

The nine-day ninth edition of Pan African Dance Festival (Fespad) that ends today was this time around given a tourism touch, as government tied the event to the promotion of tourism in the country.
A crowd follows proceedings. The New Times/ john Mbanda.
A crowd follows proceedings. The New Times/ john Mbanda.

The nine-day ninth edition of Pan African Dance Festival (Fespad) that ends today was this time around given a tourism touch, as government tied the event to the promotion of tourism in the country.

Unlike in the past when troupes from across Africa and some other parts of the world like China and Japan would jam Kigali streets and rock the national stadium with performances, this time the event was taken on a travel route across the country.

Previously orgarnised by the Ministry of Culture, the government’s investment promotion arm, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) took over this year.

For the acting Chief Executive Officer of RDB, Clare Akamanzi, Fespad is one way of promoting the culture of peace and Rwanda wants it “to serve as reference to other cultural events in Africa.”

“Normally culture is consumed within communities,” she said in a telephone interview this week, adding that Rwanda wanted to take advantage of this cultural event to promote tourism in the country since dancing is enshrined in the African culture and, therefore, likely to better tell people more about Rwanda.

“We think that it’s a very good feat,” she explained. “It’s the whole continent that is watching through the media.”

Apart from the capital, Kigali, events that included artistes’ competitions on both the national and African level as well as dance concerts were held closer to touristic places in the countryside.

They were in Eastern Province’s Rwamagana district in the spirit of taking the participants closer to the home of the scenic Akagera National Park, an area that RDB describes as the Serengeti of Rwanda.

Dance competitions were also staged in the Southern Province, a place that is home to much of Rwanda’s culturral heritage where a replica of a traditional royal place was constructed, home to some of the first catholic churches in Rwanda and  the first university and national museum.

And when the festival arrived in the Western and Northern provinces, participants took their beat and rhythm to Karongi, Rubavu, and Musanze districts, closer to other famous sites.

The two provinces are home to a few remaining world mountain gorillas that live in the Volcanoes National Park, Nyungwe natural forest where the cheeky golden monkeys play, as well as the wonderful breeze beach on the shores of Lake Kivu.

The festival will close with a concert featuring regional and international artistes.

In RDB’s own terms, the participants were invited to ‘take a break’ and ‘dance’.

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