OPINION | JAMAFEST
Uganda is hosting the East African Community Arts and Culture Festival translated in Swahili as – Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki Utamaduni Festival (or JAMAFEST). The festival runs from September 7 to September 15.
Pius Bigirimana, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development on Thursday, September 7, 2017 held a press briefing at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala about Jamafest. Below is his statement
It is my pleasure to welcome you to this press briefing at which we seek to gladly inform you that the long-awaited East African Community Arts and Culture Festival translated in Swahili as – Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki Utamaduni Festival (or JAMAFEST), is here!
We have waited for two years to get to this point.
In 2015, a decision was taken to have Uganda host the third edition of JAMAFEST. This was after Rwanda and Kenya hosted the first and second edition of the festival in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
The festival was passed by the council of ministers in 2011 as one of the strategies through which we can foster socioeconomic cohesion among East Africans.
Beyond that, Uganda was chosen because we are a country branded “The Pearl of Africa” given the natural sceneries, extended heritage, colour and profusion of brilliant life.
We have a diverse heritage comprising of 65 indigenous tribes with distinguished music, culture, dance and joy performances to showcase.
As a country, we are increasingly becoming popular for regional, continental and international events. We have just held a very successful Commonwealth Youth Minister’s Meeting here in Kampala (which ran from July 31 to August 4, 2017) with representation from over 35 Commonwealth countries.
We believe these events are critical opportunities to sell the potential our beautiful motherland holds. We have, therefore, spared no effort in ensuring that JAMAFEST in Kampala becomes one of the most memorable festivals ever held.
We are expecting at least 250 delegates from each of the Member States including Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan while Uganda as the host we shall have representatives from all the regions and of course the active participation of all Ugandans.
The delegates start to arrive in the country today (Thursday, September 7) and my call goes out to all Ugandans to exhibit our profound hospitability and care we always accord to visitors.
The festival, organised by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development in conjunction with the Ministry of East African Community Affairs, will run from today, September 7 to September 15, 2017 under the theme “Culture and creative industries: An Engine for unity and Employment Creation”.
The theme speaks to the calls for unity and employment creation at a time when the region faces major challenges of discord arising from an array of issues and the high unemployment levels, especially among the youth.
Unity refers to the state of being united or together. It is the feeling of oneness, togetherness, harmony, for common goal. We need unity as a nation, families and societies.
With Unity in diversity we can live in communal harmony whilst also embracing each other’s’ differences.
Arts and culture are a strong conduit through which we can achieve unity.
It is also globally accepted that a flourishing arts and culture sector can immensely contribute to economic development. We need to explore our community's existing artistic talent and related amenities, such as ethnic foods, costumes and visual arts and crafts for economic empowerment.
Arts and cultural activity can increase attention and foot traffic to an area, including attracting visitors and increasing the length of time and money they spend, thereby contributing to continued development.
These are the sort of opportunities we need to take advantage of during the seven days of JAMAFEST.
We shall have a market place at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds where we shall have cultural products on sale from the September 10 to 14, 2017.
The event will take place in three different venues as follows:
Kololo Ceremonial Grounds. The main activities here will be the official opening of JAMAFEST at 2.00pm on Sunday, September 10, 2017. Other activities will include the Exhibition and Demonstration, the Market Place, the traditional and children’s games. Most of the activities will run from 9.00am to 11.00pm daily.
Hotel Africana will host the Symposium, the fashion show, partner States Caucusing Rooms, the Secretary General’s Office and the East African Village. We shall also have the Accreditation Secretariat and JAMAFEST Secretariats there.
The National Theatre is the third venue and it will host the live performances, Comedy Night and Film Shows. It will be open from 9.00am to 11.00pm.
Events and activities
1.Kampala JAMAFEST Carnival
The carnival will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2017 along Kampala Road starting at City Square to Railway Grounds. There will be six carnival stages each representing the partner states. The carnival will begin at 9am to 11pm. The official opening of the carnival will be at 3.00pm at the Ugandan stage.
2. Opening and Closing Ceremonies
The official opening ceremony will take place on September 10, 2017 at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds at 2:00pm. The Chief Guest will be H.E the President of Uganda.
The official closing ceremony will take place on Thursday, September 14, 2017 at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds and the Chief Guest will be the Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda at 6:00pm.
There will be a variety of live performances from all the Partner States ranging music, dance, drama, theatre, poetry, comedy, East African Night and fashion show at the two venues of Kololo ceremonial grounds and National Theatre.
Traditional and Children’s theatre and games
Two separate areas will be designated for the public to participate in traditional games, while a children’s play area will also be provided. All the partner States will be displayed at Kololo ceremonial grounds from 11- 14 September 2017.The traditional games will end with a competition of wresting on September 14, 2017 and award of the winner.
Arts and crafts exhibition and sales
An area has been designated at Kololo for all the partner states delegates to market their cultural and creative products and network with one another from September 10 – 14, 2017.
East African Cultural Night/Fashion Show
Partner States will show case the EAC integration through fashion and design on 14 September 14, 2017 at Hotel Africana.
A two day symposium will take place from September 11 – 12, 2017 at Hotel Africana.
Lastly, I wish to extend an open invitation to all Ugandans to come, see, learn and participate in the arts and cultural extravaganza of the East African Community.
All events, besides the symposium, are open and free for the public to attend.
I thank you.
The writer is the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development