Hundreds of Rwandans yesterday jammed Kigali streets to participate in a carnival march that marked the start of this year’s national harvest day celebration, locally known as Umuganura.
The march, that was led by the police band, was punctuated by drumming and dancing.
The marchers were treated to spectacular traditional dance and daring acrobatic moves from from the Urekerereza national ballet and the Centre des Jeunes Gatenga acrobats respectively.
Motorcyclists also added colour to the event, riding and hooting in the city streets, attracting more attention from the onlookers.
Many people were seen running from their houses and places of work to witness the multitudes of people who were participating in the occassion.
The launch was also unique as it moved away from the cutting of a ribbon to drumming in front of an arch of triumph.
Alphonse Umulisa, the Director General of the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda together with Lauren Thecle Makuza, the director of culture at the Ministry of Culture and Sports launched the three-day festivities with drumming in front of an arch of triumph at Club Rafiki in Nyamirambo, Kigali.
Leading the march, they were later joined by the police band for a procession from Club Rafiki to Onatracom.
The marchers who were divided into groups with one group marching via the 1930 prison to the statistics building while the other marched from Remera through Kisementi before they both met at Petit Stade.
The Umuganura celebration, set to run for three days, instead of one as it was the case previously, is featuring a cultural exhibition with Inyambo (traditional cows) parade today at Rukari ancient history museum in Nyanza District, as well as an exhibition of traditional practices like grinding on a stone, blacksmith and pottery among others.
The celebration will also be used to showcase the country’s achievements in education and agriculture, among others.
Makuza said the carnival aims at marketing Umuganura.
“We realised that exhibitions were not enough when it comes to mobilising people, thus decided to organise something that would draw people. With a carnival you tend to reach out to a larger audience compared to when you attend an event in one place because its only the people invited who will attend,” Makuza explained.
Makuza added that the carnival is aimed at promoting Rwandan culture, especially among the youth and foreigners.
Over 400 people graced the carnival from different sectors of the economy with direct participation of 38 associations and cooperatives.
The public was impressed by the several talents and cultures on display.
Damien Uwemeyimana, a participant was thrilled with the event; which he said would help attract youth to Umuganura and other development programmes
“The beauty about carnivals is that they mobilise and sensitise people about development programmes which, in turn, will improve their standards of living,” he said.
Annoncee Sina Ndahimana, a member of the Rwanda Youth Organisation for Sustainable Development, said the carnival was a learning experience for her as she got to learn about the Rwandan culture and the traditional norms that are being exhibited at the ongoing cultural exhibition at Petit Stade.
The climax of the Umuganura celebration will be on August 1 at Petit Stade the theme; “The national harvest day celebration, foundation for self reliance”.