The much awaited FESPAD 2010 kicked off with all the expected fanfare last Saturday at the Amahoro Stadium before a mammoth crowd of Rwandans and foreigners.
With the entrance fee waived just before the bonanza kicked off, the stadium gradually saw all its concrete filled with enthusiastic people. Most of those in attendance were holiday makers.
The ceremony was graced by President Paul Kagame who received lots of praises from the various artists who staged shows.
The Ugandan artist, Jose Chameleon even left the stage and walked all the way to the VIP section to get a handshake from the one president he admires a lot.
This year’s opening ceremony will most probably be remembered for the colourful choreographed dances that were presented by students. Seeing the students filling the stadium’s turf and performing different formations free of errors was just too good. This simply compelled those in attendance to keep applauding the youngsters.
There was also an umbrella themed dance where several youngsters entertained the crowd by moving around and spinning beautifully coloured umbrellas. For a moment, the elaborate Chinese outfits they wore easily robbed the event of its African theme. We were told that the dances were made possible thanks to the generosity of the Chinese government.
The fact that students participated in the opening ceremony of the festival and by all measures put up a good performance is something worth talking about. I was previously convinced that students would only attend the festival as part of the audience.
It was very encouraging to see that Rwandan students had something to show the world that came to witness FESPAD. As the proverbial leaders of tomorrow, they should be initiated into the world of dance and music at a tender age if they are to gain anything from it.
The biggest dilemma in education especially in Sub-Saharan Africa is the continued focus on academics at the expense of extra curricular activities. All that matters to schools these days is the preparation of students to pass exams. The rest simply doesn’t count.
This meant that anyone whose academic abilities are lacking in anyway has nothing much to gain from being in school. It is high time our policy makers and those in the education sector realised the holistic values of school beyond just passing exams.
Schools should be breeding grounds for all sorts of talented citizens not just people who can talk about theories or solve mathematical problems. Schools should embrace activities like music, dance and drama so as to help those with the talents to discover their gifts and develop them in time.
The Ministry of Youth and Culture in conjunction with the Education Ministry ought to establish a programme through which various schools regularly prepare and compete in music, dance and drama.
Another lesson that we can pick from this year’s FESPAD is the need to establish professional dance schools in Rwanda. Unlike the previous years, the organisers have included a dance competition and dance workshops, this year. My humble prayer is that participants from these workshops can agree on the need for the establishment of professional dance schools.
Young Rwandans should be able to learn modern dances like ballet, salsa, and ballroom dancing among others. Good dancers can then be used to entertain guests at the school or even at ordinary parties and events.
The traditional Kinyarwanda dances are the best but we need to allow other forms of dance to be developed. I hope that this year’s event will go down as a learning experience for all those who have witnessed it.Follow https://twitter.com/ssojo81