Traditional harvest festival returns to Rwanda this Friday
â€œUmuganuraâ€, a centuriesâ€™ old tradition that embodies the country’s cultural heritage is back in Rwanda, as the countryâ€™s people celebrate good yields and growth rates only dreamed about in other countries.
In a bid to promote the Rwandan Culture of valuing and celebrating achievements and crop yields from the countryâ€™s soil; the Government of Rwanda through the Ministry of Sports and Culture (MINISPOC), in collaboration with various partners, has organised Umuganura celebration, commonly known as the National Harvest Day.Â The day will be celebrated onÂ Friday 7 August 2015Â in Nyagatare District, Eastern Province.
This yearâ€™s celebrations will be held under the theme: â€œUmuganura, a foundation of unity and self-reliance.â€
Known worldwide as National Harvest Day; in Rwandaâ€™s history, Umuganura was one of the most important ceremonies celebrated by Rwandans at the beginning of every harvest season. The festivities were an occasion to celebrate the countryâ€™s achievements in terms of harvest both at the kingdom and family levels.
Umuganura is the first-fruit festival and one of Rwandaâ€™s ancient royal rituals. The festival served as a harvest thanksgiving ceremony to thank God, the King or Queen Mother as Godâ€™s minister and the ancestors as guardians and protectors. Umuganura is attributed to Gihanga, meaning that it has existed since the countryâ€™s early birth, and is among the key rituals in Rwandan culture.
Today, Umuganura has a broader meaning; from being initially about agro-based harvest celebration to including striking achievements from other sectors key to national development. These include:Â Health, Education, ICT, Sports, Mining, Infrastructure, Culture and Tourism.
Umuganura has evolved to become a national festival to celebration the countryâ€™s achievements in line with its vision for a more cohesive, united, peaceful and prosperous future.
Commenting on this yearâ€™s Umuganura celebrations, the Minister of Sports and Culture, Julienne Uwacu remarks that: â€œIn the kingdom era, the main activities for income generation were agriculture and livestock. Now we have more economic activities. Through Umuganura, we celebrate all those great achievements that we have registered in different sectors. This is an opportunity for us to think of news ways to attain sustainable development.â€
Minister Uwacu further points out that there is a consensus that culture grows and reconstructs. â€œWhat the society has to do is preventing any variables that might distort it. We have not altered Umuganura festival; we are maintaining it.â€Â
Umuganura has been one of the inspiring pillars of dignity and solidarity of Rwandans since hundreds of years back. It is the essence of unit and brotherhood at the same time being the pillar of self-reliance resulting from economic performance, family welfare and national dignity.
Umuganura is a great opportunity for families to come together. This spirit of unit and solidarity is the real identity of Rwandans and leads to a nation of dignity and respect.