By Innocent Anguyo and Rebecca Mulungi
Uganda will chair the first ever East African Arts and culture festival slated to take place in Kigali, Rwanda in February.
The East African Community Secretariat based in Arusha, Tanzania chose Uganda as chair and Rwanda as host for the annual festival with hope to rotate it around the region.
The Six-day festival will see member states show-case their uniqueness through art and culture in the Rwandan capital from 11 to 17 of February, gender state minister Rukia Nakadama said.
Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda have confirmed attendance of the festival code named “Juiimiya ya Afrika Mashariki Utamaduni (JAMAFEST)”.
The theme of the festival is: “Fostering East African Community Integration through Cultural Industries”.
Arts and crafts pieces, cultural wears, music and dance, literary works, foods and beverages among fortes are to be showcased.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame will officially open the non-competitive festival with other regional leaders expected to grace the occasion.
Initially, each member state was to send 50 participants, however, as the D-day draws closer, participants have shown increasing enthusiasm, forcing the organisers to leave it open-ended.
The fete is organised by Uganda’s ministry of Gender, Labour and Social (MGLSD) Development and East African Community Affairs (EACA) in conjunction with the Secretariat.
Uganda has selected a-141-man team to represent her in the festival. The team is comprised of 60 children and senior officials from ministries of MGSLD, EACA, Health and Education and Sports.
Others are from notable art and culture related institutions like the movie industry, Makerere University, Fountain publishers, Net Media Publications, Uganda Industrial Research Institute.
Sh410m has been put aside to facilitate the team.
State Minister for Gender and Culture Rukia Nakadama the festival will be a golden opportunity for Uganda to market her largely untapped tourism potential especially in arts and culture.
Uganda currently earns $800m from tourism without marketing the sector but experts believe the amount increase three-fold in a year with little marketing.
The Secretariat hopes to use the fiesta as a means to appreciate the diversity of East African Culture in a bid to interweave the region’s people.