25 February 2013

Rwanda: Fespad 2013 - Did the Launch Live Up to Its Expectations?

Beenie Man's hit song. ( Resource: Beenie Man - Dude )

It's 3 p.m the weather is very hot and music fans are flocking Petit Stade in huge numbers for the Pan-African Dance Festival. But did the 2013 festival live up to its hype and prove a worthy to the critically acclaimed FESPAD?

Arrival at the venue gave me a glimpse of just how badly organised this festival was. FESPAD 2013 was designed to become one-of-its-kind. However, the official launch (February 23) at Amahoro stadium was cancelled due to a heavy downpour and it was held at Petit Stade the following day- a venue that is too small to accommodate a very huge crowd.

One person we contacted, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The New Times, "Many people struggled to enter into the venue, and at one point I feared that there would be a stampede, since the event was free."

"The sound was horrible and the fireworks display was a total disaster," the source added.

A total of 40 countries were invited to take part in this year's festival, with a delegation of 10 people each-however only 11 countries including; Burundi, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Namibia and Rwanda are participating in a competition, determined to be the champion of African dance. Rwanda is represented by two traditional dance groups, Inema and the national ballet Urukerereza, while others countries are represented by one troupe each.

The 8th FESPAD, held under the theme 'Spirit of Expression', kicked off with performances from curtain raisers, followed by cultural troupes, who wowed fans with their vibrant performances.

Local musicians, Riderman, Gaby Kamanzi and Irangira Makanyaga delivered great performances, with King James belting out his famous hits; Pala Pala, Abubu and Yebabawe. Ugandan female rapper Keko and Camp Mulla, a Kenyan Hip-hop group also worked the crowd with great performances.

The show's emcees were Rwanda's Lion Manzi and Flavia Tumushime from Uganda.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister of Culture and Sports Protais Mitali, said that culture is the foundation of sustainable development adding that Rwanda is honoured to host the 2013 Pan African Festival of Dance.

"African culture and artistes need to be recognised and supported; culture is on the basis of development" the Minister said.

The ceremony, held on Sunday was attended by several dignitaries including the First Lady Jeannette Kagame, Youth minister Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Minister of Trade and Industry, François Kanimba and Clare Akamanzi, the CEO of Rwanda Development Board, which is also an organiser of FESPAD 2013.

Many artistes performed at the event-showcasing the culture of their respective countries. It is expected that the week-long festival will attract thousands of residents who will find the opportunity to enjoy traditional dances.

Yesterday, a national dance competition is reported to have been held in Rwamagana, in the Eastern Province , and a dance workshop was organised at the French cultural centre in Kigali.

FESPAD was created in 1998 by the former Organisation of African Unity(OAU), now the African Union.

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