Rwanda: Ubumuntu Arts Festival Celebrates 10 Years of Inspiring Creativity

As Rwanda continues to celebrate the 30th Liberation anniversary, observed on July 4 every year, the Ubumuntu Arts Festival, which has been a beacon of hope and artistic expression, gears up for its 10th anniversary from July 18 to 28 to be held at the Kigali Genocide Memorial’s amphitheatre.

This year’s theme, “Integrity: Resilience in the Face of Adversity”, honours artists who have shown steadfast commitment and innovative spirit. It will feature workshops and panel discussions on resilience, ethical leadership, and integrity. These sessions aim to equip participants with practical skills and inspiration from real-life experiences.

The Ubumuntu Arts Festival centres around a powerful means of communication, providing a platform for expressing opinions, addressing pertinent issues, and sharing universal values that impact humanity as a whole.

This commitment to meaningful dialogue is vividly represented by a vibrant wallpaper behind the panellists’ seats, displaying an array of words and slogans that aptly capture the festival’s core values: rebirth, restoration, unity, integrity, respect, stop-breathe-live, forward-upward-onward, we are human together, you are because I am, and many more.

Founded on the principles of humanity, the Ubumuntu Arts Organization aims to bridge cultural and national divides through the power of art. This annual festival has become a cornerstone event that attracts artists and audiences from across the globe.

Since its inception, it has consistently drawn talent from around the world, offering them a stage to share their works that resonate with the core values of humanity and perseverance.

Unlike previous events, which held a one-day conference and a three-day festival, this year’s festival extends to 10 days, to mark a decade of impact, featuring diverse events such as: Ikaze night, Ubumuntu classic, loud silence, creative currents, letters of legacy, green is me, listening and leading to name but a few.

“We are immensely proud to mark a decade of Ubumuntu (Being Human). This anniversary is a significant milestone for us, celebrating 10 years of profound storytelling and impactful art that has touched hearts and stimulated dialogue among diverse communities,” said Hope Azeda, founder and curator of the Ubumuntu Arts Festival.

According to Fola Folayan, the media spokesperson, the theme, aligned with Rwanda’s 30th Liberation anniversary, will feature specially curated workshops and panel discussions focused on resilience-building strategies, ethical leadership, and maintaining integrity in challenging times.

She noted: “We are also paying special attention to empowering the youth in Rwanda through mentorship sessions and leadership training, recognising their role in sustaining the values of integrity and resilience that are the hallmark of this great country.

“We have performances that pay tribute to those who have demonstrated exceptional integrity and resilience in the face of adversity, particularly during Rwanda’s liberation struggle. These tributes serve as powerful reminders and sources of inspiration for everyone.”

She said notable achievements in the last 10 years, the event has witnessed cultural exchange and collaboration while facilitating numerous cross-cultural collaborations, bringing together artists from diverse backgrounds to create and perform together.

Also, it has been instrumental in nurturing emerging artists, providing them with platforms to showcase their work, network with established artists, and gain exposure. This support has helped launch the careers of many talented individuals.

“This year, we hope to engage and develop the youth through creative activities, fostering community cohesion and cultural preservation. We also want to boost our local economy by attracting tourism and supporting Rwandan creators and artists,” said Folayan.

She added: “We look forward to serving as an inspiration and model for other arts festivals in the world, demonstrating how arts can drive social change and community building while also creating networking opportunities and enhancing Rwanda’s reputation for cultural and artistic excellence.”