Africa comes to dance, sing and rap

Young stars from around Africa were rocking away all over Rwanda for this year’s Pan African Dance Festival (FESPAD) in a week jam-packed with talent.

Nigeria’s popular rapper Panshak Zamani (aka Ice Prince), Ugandan rapper Jocelyne Tracey Keko (aka Keko), and East Africa’s star singer Jean Pierre Nimbona (aka Kidum – a Burundian performer based in Kenya) were the key highlights of the event, which was held in the last week in February in Kigali as well as in other centres around Rwanda. The foreign celebrities joined some already established local stars in Rwanda like rapper Gatsinzi Emery (aka Riderman) and Holly Jay Doves, who performed more than once to keep the local spirit alive.

A regular biennial event in Rwanda under the auspices of the African Union and sponsored by local businesses, this year’s FESPAD attracted hundreds of acts, including traditional dance troops from all over Africa, and some from Asia and Europe. Eleven African countries sent their national dance troupes to the event including those of Egypt, Uganda, Madagascar, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Liberia and Nigeria.

This year’s FESPAD was given a special tourism touch as participants were taken across the country to visit major tourist spots including national parks, museums and beaches on Lake Kivu. The whole event was coordinated by Rwanda Development Board (RDB), whose chief executive Clare Akamanzi described the event as a “dialogue between people and exchanging riches”.

“The spirit of expression” was the theme, and organisers said this fitted with the idea of bringing Africa together through dance. Performances by both traditional troupes and modern dancers left spectators describing it as “great” and “exciting”.


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