The 5th Edition of the East African Community Art and Cultural Festival, JAMAFEST, came to a close on Friday, 9th September 2022 at the Intwari Stadium with different cultural performances from Partner States’ cultural troupes.
The seven-day festival attracted more than 2,000 participants from the seven (7) EAC Partner States, which included performing artists, exhibitors, culture professionals/ academicians, students, administrators, civil society organizations, and the private sector involved in the art and culture sector activities.
The main objective of the festival which was organized by the EAC Secretariat in collaboration with the government of Burundi was to promote regional socio-cultural integration through arts and culture by providing a regional platform to showcase culture as a prime driver of EAC integration.
In addition, the festival featured a symposium of culture professionals and researchers to dialogue on selected sub-themes including Adopting new regional languages in the EAC; the Role of modern technologies in advancing cultural expression and arts; Indigenous Knowledge, and Traditional Medicine; Arts, Industry and Tourism; Youth Participation and Employment; Research, Innovation, and Investment in Arts and Culture, and; Inclusion of Marginalised Populations (indigenous communities, PWDs, Women, Older Persons).
Speaking when he officially closed the festival, Burundi’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of EAC Affairs, Youth, Sports and Culture, Mbarubukeye Severin, said that the theme of the 5th Edition of East African Community Arts and Culture Festival: ”Harnessing the Cultural Resources to mitigate the Impact of COVID-19 in the East African Community” was instructive and timely.
Marubukeye represented Burundi’s Minister of EAC Affairs, Youth, Sports and Culture and the Chair of EAC Council of Ministers, Ambassador Ezéchiel Nibigira who urged Partner States to always use JAMAFEST as a platform to showcase the phenomenal rich culture and heritage in the region.
“We can all agree that the potential for monetization of our rich culture and heritage is unparalleled,” said Severin.
The PS disclosed that the festival had had a significant impact on the lives of thousands of Burundians who witnessed cultural diversity in the region.
“We as Burundians are so proud to have you around for the past seven days. I have a strong feeling that you enjoyed being here as much as we enjoyed having you,” said Mbarubukeye.
The Director of Social Sectors at the EAC Secretariat, Dr. Irene Isaka said that the goal of the festival was to bring East Africans together (artists, practitioners, policymakers, traditional custodians of culture, leaders and ordinary citizens) to interact and share their common cultural heritage through art and culture in order to foster social cohesion and unity amongst the people of the region.
Dr. Isaka, who spoke on behalf of the EAC Secretary General, Dr. Peter Mathuki, said that the goal of East Africans is to work towards a culturally integrated region whose overriding agenda is to promote and celebrate its diverse Cultural Heritage; to improve the living conditions of its people and to facilitate free movement of citizens across borders in fulfillment of the dreams and ambitions of EAC citizens.
“On behalf of the EAC Secretariat, we are delighted to note that with each edition of JAMAFEST, the desired objective of the regional festival is being fulfilled,” said Dr. Isaka.
Dr. Isaka commended the youth from all the Partner States who participated wholeheartedly in the festival, adding that the youth put forward their best performances right from the opening ceremony especially a thrilling performance by an acrobatic troupe from the United Republic of Tanzania and the young drummers from Burundi.
The 1st Edition of the festival was held in Kigali Rwanda in 2013 followed by Nairobi-Kenya in 2015 then Kampala, Uganda in 2017. The 4th edition was in Dar es Salaam in 2019 then Burundi was proposed to host the 5th Edition of JAMAFEST in 2021 but due to the COVID-19 Pandemic that restricted travel among the Partner States, the festival was postponed to September 2022.