The New Times (Kigali)

East Africa: EAC Cultural Festival Ends On High

The first edition of the EAC Art and Cultural Festival, dubbed Jamafest, ended with funfare at the weekend at Amahoro Stadium, Kigali.

At the event, regional countries were called upon to take cultural-related activities to learning institutions to help the young generation understand their cultural traditions.

Sports and Culture minister Protais Mitali said children need to understand their culture in order to boost not only the EAC integration, but also social-economic development.

"Cultural activities such as carnivals should be taken to schools. If there is no culture there is no future and sustainable development in the region. That's why we need to sensitise the entire East Africans," the minister said.

He stressed the need to increase the number of participants in the next event as well as introduce prize-giving to the best exhibitors to encourage more people to advance their talents.

The event attracted more than 1,000 participants from across the region.

The closing ceremony was preceded by community work (Umuganda) at the Genocide Memorial Centre in Gisozi as symbol of collaboration among East Africans.

Community work

Mitali urged the EAC Secretariat to add community work on the agenda of Jamafest, which would be executed in host countries, he said.

The festival was organised under the theme, "Fostering the East African Community Integration through Cultural Industries."

It featured cultural performances from all the five EAC partner states.

Jessica Eriyo, the EAC deputy secretary-general in-charge of productive and social sector, called upon the participants to act as ambassadors of cultural integration.

"The desired objective of Jamafest has been achieved; we wanted to bring East Africans together to share cultural norms through interactions and we have succeeded in that," she said.

Several activities, including live performances, fashion shows, art exhibitions and sales, workshops and symposiums were held in different parts at the stadium.

Bibiana Nyangusi, an exhibitor from Tanzania, commended the event, saying she had learnt a lot from her counterparts as regards regional cultures.

The event was organised in line with Article 119 of the EAC Treaty, where Partner States commit to promote close cooperation in culture and sports.

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