FESPAD 2013 finally launches


The uncertainties of the weather removed, by staging the second attempt to launch FESPAD 2013 indoors at the Petit Stade of the Amahoro National Stadium in Kigali, the show finally got on the road, opened by the Rwandan Minister for Culture in the presence of the First Lady Mrs. Kagame.

Packed to capacity with not a seat left in the house, thousands were crammed into the stadium parking and park area where giant screens let them see what happened inside, where a spectacle of dance performances from across Africa thrilled the crowd.

Groups from Namibia, Egypt, Burundi, Congo DR, Uganda and of course the host country Rwanda performed at the Gala event, showcasing the best in traditional dance their country has to offer, all of course vying for the prizes available to the best teams at the end of the weeklong festival of dance, song, art and heritage.

Costumes and expressions were beyond expectations and when the big drums of the Rwandan National Ballet were beaten the crowd again leaped to their feet and screams of approval echoed across the Petit Stade, competing with the rolling drum beats and the accompanying music.

FESPAD 2013 today moves into the country side with visits planned across the week to Rwamagana, Huye, Karongi, Musanze and finally Gisenyi where the Lake Kivu Serena will be hosting the performers and spectators for the much awaited ‘FESPAD Kivu Party’.

Meanwhile will dance competitions across Rwanda determine the national champions, due to be presented at the closing ceremony on Saturday 02nd of March while in Kigali and key towns workshops are being conducted to encourage traditional as well as contemporary dancing.

When the main launch ceremony was over, the Petit Stade transformed itself into an arena of contemporary East African music with performers from Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda driving the crowds into a near frenzy as they saw their favourite singers and bands on stage such as King James, Gabi Kamanzi, Keko, Rider Man, the Irangira Makanayaga Group and Camp Mulla. United by music and dance performances, the crowds, especially those outside watching on giant screens, made the most of this event and danced long into the night, before eventually seeking out Kigali’s night spots to continue the fun into the early hours of Monday.

Said a fellow scribe, overheard during a conversation: ‘If only us Africans would dance more there would be more peace on our continent. People dancing have no time for conflict. Promoting dance through FESPAD is one little way how the AU encourages peace and better understanding between the people of Africa’. True that is of course and last night’s performance for sure also was evidence how Rwanda has come together over the past 18+ years and how there are now but one people of Rwanda, no longer divided by tribe but united as a nation.

Staff from the Ministry of Culture and the Rwanda Development Board also expressed their satisfaction and delight over the turnout and the participation of the crowds inside and outside, a testament of how well organized the re-scheduled launch turned out to be and how their overnight work, following the torrential hailstorm of the previous day, had paid off. Thanks to them, thanks to the performers and thanks for the warm hospitality of the Rwandan people.