In 2015, the Ubuntuntu Arts Festival was born and the annual festival has steadily grown in stature and global recognition. The festival provides a platform for artists from around the world to present performances dealing with difficult aspects of societal violence and human nature, from police brutality and mass incarceration to civil war and genocide and other thorny topics.
The time and place of the festival have deep historical and moral significance. The festival takes place at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, built on the resting place of 250,000 Tutsi. The festival takes place in July during the last week of the commemoration of the 100 days of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The festival’s impact on artists and visitors extends far beyond the flagship event, however, and many participants have returned to their respective countries to launch similar festivals. based on the model of the Ubuntu Arts Festival.
Performances, workshops, panels, and tours of the Ubumuntu Genocide Memorial encourage participants to remember the past, celebrate the present, and build a more peaceful Ubumuntu future; The Kinyarwanda word for ‘humanity’ calls for unity among all peoples of the world, promoting love and inclusion and rejecting hatred and discrimination.
After two years of being a hybrid event due to the COVID19 pandemic and the lockdown, the Ubuntu Arts Festival returns to the amphitheater and the theme for 2022 is titled “Go Ahead!” After holding virtual audiences and reaching only through digital platforms for two seasons (in 2020 and 2021, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic), Africa’s premier performing arts event for social change, Ubumuntu Arts Festival, returns to the physical stage this year.
The Ubuntu Arts Festival in 2022 will connect local and global audiences through a hybrid of live performances and virtual screenings of specially curated theatre, music and contemporary dance performances and other artistic showcases.
The festival this year is themed; Go Forth and it will run July 14-17e 2022 at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Amphitheater. And as for seven years, the entrance is completely free.
The live performances will also be streamed to a global audience on the Ubuntu Arts Festival Youtube channel as well as all social media platforms. This year’s festival will feature collaborations from artists from Rwanda, Uganda, Switzerland, Germany, Bosnia, USA, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Belgium, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Belgium, the Netherlands, to name a few countries.
The festival curator; Hope Azeda says “the beauty of art lies in its ability to deal with the unspeakable. Art can revisit traumatic scenarios and horrific moments in human history on an emotional level that few other methods can accomplish. Our festival fearlessly tackles global issues, such as police brutality, the refugee crisis and gender-based violence. Above all, we encourage communities to challenge hate, dogmatism and toxic ideas, all behaviors that precede lethal violence. Now our mission is gradually unfolding into reality.
I contacted Hope Azeda to find out more about this year’s event. When asked what she expects this year’s event to convey?
Hope Azeda stated this; “One of the expectations of this year’s event is to show how to avoid the mental rush wearing panic jackets; zoom out of uncertainty and drift through a world ruled by strange laws, all the while seeking a new balance. Whatever time we lost during the covid19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown; it is necessary to act with prudence and clarity lest we collapse; and hence the theme, Go Forth.
I asked Hope Azeda; “What would stand out from this year’s event?”
She responded by informing me that; “International collaborations will stand out this year 2022. Collaborations like Un: Imaginable, a collaboration between Bosnia, Rwanda, Germany. Another collaboration would be “Bird Conference”; a collaboration between the United States, Brazil, Benin, Turkey, Egypt, Indonesia, India and Taiwan. Yet another collaboration would be; “When I Left the Room”, which is a collaboration between Brazil, South Africa and the Netherlands.”