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Monday, 4 August 2014

Our dream is to promote Rwandan culture in New York

The Rwandan community living in the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) enjoyed a boat ride on the East River to celebrate the 4th July Rwandan Liberation Day to honor the sacrifice made by the heroes who ended the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, rescued and restored people’s dignity.

The ceremony was marked by inspiring speeches made by Rwandan High Level Officials: H.E. Eugene Richard Gasana, State Minister and Ambassador to the Rwandan Permanent Mission to the United Nations and Colonel Vincent Nyakarundi, Rwandan Military Advisor to the UN, who played a key role in the liberation struggle, reminded the community to uphold the unity and sustained gains achieved for the last 20 years.

Keeping the momentum of the July 4th celebration, the community gathered again on the 12th of July in Prospect Park in Brooklyn for the launch of the project on Rwandan cultural activities.

The project aims at creating a platform for promoting Rwandan culture with the overall objective of strengthening social cohesion and empowering the community of all ages to be creative and reconnect with the Rwandan culture.

Planned activities around this initiative will include learning Kinyarwanda, traditional dancing, Rwandan poetry and other positive traditional values, etc.

In Rwanda, the tragic colonial history of divisionism which led to the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi has contributed to tear apart the cultural identity and many artists and elderly who were custodians of the culture were killed. The Government of Rwanda is investing in restoring the cultural values and has established a cultural week to educate youth about Rwanda’s rich cultural heritage. There are also opportunities for the Diaspora to do more in particular in relation to the native language and other traditional values which are being threatened. The launch of the project was celebrated by 26 Rwandans and friends of Rwanda who live in New York and New Jersey, friends of Rwanda and others visiting from Canada and Sweden. They all felt that the project will be beneficial to them at various levels.

New York is a city where culture diversity is celebrated and we need to promote the Rwandan culture and draw the young generation to learn and be empowered. Diversity is our strength and we will use innovative tools to encourage Rwandans and other individuals with different cultural background to be part of this initiative.

The group enjoyed a sunny summer Saturday dancing traditional songs of the most wellknown Rwandan artists, namely Muyango, Kayirebwa and Jean Paul Samputu until 10:30 pm under the shade of a tree in the most celebrated park of New York in close proximity of the Bandshell.

The community will be meeting over the rest of the summer in public parks to continue to brainstorm how to establish the Rwandan Cultural Club Initiative, which will be a space for empowerment and fostering social cohesion through cultural activities. The project is organized and led by AIGINET (AmahoroIwacu Grassroots Impact Network) in the context of promoting cross-cultural exchanges initiatives.

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