The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Drum Festival Draws to a Close

Photo: IRIN
Drumming for dancers (file photo).

All roads, over the weekend, led to Huye District, Southern Province for the three-day Rwanda Drum festival as musicians and dancers showcased the country's rich musical heritage.

The country's biggest drum carnival wrapped up last Sunday, with an array of rich traditional musical styles performed by both female and male drummers accompanied by contemporary performances.

On the final day, Ingoma Nshya drummers was the show-stopper as the curtains of the fourth edition of the festival drew to a close. Other performances included those of students from the National University of Rwanda (NUR) and Burundian drummers among others.

"I'd like to thank all of you for your attendance and those who performed, especially those from the NUR and the Burundian delegation," NUR Rector, Prof. Silas Lwakabamba said.

Prof. Lwakabamba also commended the organizers of the drum festival, Ingoma Nshya Women Initiative and the sponsors of the event for their support.

Ingoma Nshya Women Initiative is Rwanda's first-ever women's drumming group which actively involves women's participation in the cultural development of the country. It has the twin goals of healing and women's empowerment by using positive methods to reconcile with the violent past of their country and personal tragedies.

The group is comprised of Rwandan women from all walks of life who have created, through their activities, a new and important female voice in the Rwandan cultural scene.

Ingoma Nshya was started on July 7, 2004 by Odile Gakire Katese, a former artistic director of the University Centre for Arts and Drama (UCAD) of the National University of Rwanda (NUR).

In December 2008, Ingoma Nshya--Women Initiatives created the Rwandan Drum Festival (RDF), in partnership with the National Centre for Arts and Drama of the University of Rwanda. Both organised the inaugural national festival.

RDF serves as a valued national platform for Rwandan artists (particularly for women and drummers) by creating, promoting, as well as developing local and national networks. It is also the only stage where the drum craft is renovated, questioned and developed.

Some of the objectives of Ingoma Nshya--Women Initiatives include promoting gender and chance equality in the Rwandan cultural fields; to promote space of exchange, conviviality and fun to both Rwandan women and men, to increase artistic and cultural activities in Rwanda, which are rare, fragile and not yet sustainable.

"These women are from the community, and some of them are orphans and windows. Some of them are children, wives and husbands of the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. There are different sorts of women from different backgrounds," Gloria Magambo, the Acting Director of the National Centre for Arts and Drama pointed out.

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