The 8th edition of the Pan-African Dance Festival (FESPAD) was launched on Sunday 24 March 2013 under the theme "The spirit of expression".
The festival aims to promote a culture of peace though dance and encourage the discovery and exchange of African culture. "Dance is part and parcel of African culture and it dates as far back as the earliest documentation on African history. It goes beyond just entertainment to also fostering peace and unity as well as bringing peoples and communities closer together," said Ms. Clare Akamanzi, Acting CEO of Rwanda Development Board, organisers of FESPAD.
Participating countries include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Egypt, Namibia, Uganda and Rwanda. The jam-packed event was attended by various dignitaries from both government and the private sector with the guest of honor being Mrs. Jeannette Kagame, First Lady of Rwanda.
Officially opening the festival, Minister of Sports and Culture, Protais Mitali thanked the African Union for choosing Rwanda as the permanent host of FESPAD, an event held every two years. "The Rwandan government and the people of Rwanda are very supportive of FESPAD and its purpose as it is one way of ensuring that Africa's cultures are promoted, respected and enjoyed by all citizens".
In addition to having colorful and lively country performances, the crowd was entertained by local and regional artists.
The idea for FESPAD was born in 1976. That year African leaders adopted the "Cultural Charter for Africa" which provided a sound framework for promotion of Africa's cultural riches.
The principal objectives of the Cultural Charter were closely tied to the overall aims and objectives of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which was to promote the cultural integrity of the African people. Subsequently, in 1998, the OAU created FESPAD and Rwanda was chosen as the permanent host.
FESPAD will include several workshops, a dance competition and events across Rwanda culminating in the closing ceremony on March 2nd, 2013.