FESPAD goes underway in Rwanda’s capital Kigali


Another week long spectacle of dance and art, performed by participants from over 40 African countries, is going underway today when President Paul Kagame opens FESPAD, the Pan African dance, song and heritage event at the Amahoro National Stadium in Kigali before an expected crowd of at least 20.000 spectators.

Organized by the Rwanda Development Board’s Tourism and Conservation Department, in conjunction with other national culture and art organizations and supported by the national airline RwandAir, the biannual event has raised substantial interest in not just Rwanda but across Eastern Africa, where only last week the 10thSauti Za Busara Festival in Zanzibar took place while here in Rwanda the first ever East African ‘Jama Fest’ took the local art and culture scene by storm, almost like a curtain raiser for the continental event which is now unfolding.

Top rated performers were in Kigali for the Jama Fest and an even better lineup is expected from Eastern Africa, with the crème de la crème of African music and dance undoubtedly setting the stadium alight.

Notably will the festival not just remain in the capital city of Kigali but spread across much of the country, offering special showings and performances in the key towns of Rwanda from Rwamagana over Huye and Karongi to Muzanze and Rubavu before ending in a grand send off ceremony again at the Petit Stade Amahoro in Kigali.

Rica Rwigamba, Head of Tourism and Conservation at the Rwanda Development Board, who was tasked to play a major role in coordinating the event, had this to say ahead of the opening day: ‘FESPAD is consistent with the strategy of Rwanda to show the world its unique cultural heritage through dance but also to make a platform destination in Kigali international events while promoting African Unity through dance.

FESPAD was created in 1998 by the former Organization of African Unity, now known as the African Union and has since been taking place in a number of countries across Africa.

Rica Rwigamba last week announced that the 8th Edition of the Pan-African Festival of Dance (FESPAD) will be held under the theme ‘Spirit of Expression’.

A total of 40 countries were invited to take part in this festival with a delegation of at least10 participants and most have on the eve of the opening confirmed their participation and arrived in Kigali.

The specialty of the 8th edition of FESPAD is that it has scheduled a competition to determine the Champion of African Dance when through their respective traditional music and dances, participating countries will be able to showcase, to the continent and the world at large, their cultural talents.

Expect live updates from across Rwanda over the next week with pictures and short video clips documenting both performers as well as spectators, with added impressions from key tourism sites and attractions along the way, like the Nyungwe Forest National Park, aka the Enchanted Forest, the Akagera National Park, the shores of Lake Kivu along which the Congo – Nile Trail runs over 224 kilometres between Gisenyi and Cyangugu and of course Ruhengeri with the back drop of the volcanic mountains, home to the rare mountain gorillas. Watch this space.