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Rwanda: Ikirenga delighted to host UNESCO’s national programme officer Judy Ogana

Tuesday, March 19, 2024, Ikirenga Arts and Culture Promotion (Ikirenga ACP), an organization dedicated to promoting arts and culture and fostering social inclusion and cultural exchange and appreciation, hosted Judy Ogana, the National Programme Officer – Culture at UNESCO, Regional Office for East Africa, during the implementation of the second phase of Ikirenga Artistic Freedom Initiative, a project Ikirenga ACP is implementing in partnership with UNESCO.

During her visit, Judy had the opportunity to explore Ikirenga ACP’s Office in Musanze District, which serves as a training center and hub for artists to nurture and develop their talents.

The office space exemplifies Ikirenga ACP’s commitment to fostering creativity, supporting local artists, and promoting cultural exchange. Judy experienced firsthand the impact of Ikirenga’s initiatives and programs, gaining insights into the organization’s mission and objectives.

Judy’s visit provided an invaluable opportunity for dialogue, further strengthening the partnership between Ikirenga and UNESCO in advancing artistic freedom and cultural development in Rwanda and beyond. 

The Executive Director of Ikirenga Arts and Culture Promotion and the whole team at Ikirenga appreciated Judy’s visit. The Executive Director, Mr. Pierre, remarked “As Ikirenga continues to expand its efforts in promoting arts and culture and partnering with UNESCO, we are still committed to our mission of promoting arts, fostering cultural exchange, and fostering social inclusion.”

Judy Ogana, in the company of Ikirenga’s Executive Director, Mr. Pierre, and a few members of Ikirenga ACP’s team, paid a courtesy call to Hon, NSENGIMANA Claudien, the Mayor of Musanze.

This visit was mainly to understand the efforts being put in place by the District of Musanze to support the growth of artists in Musanze and also to understand how the Ikirenga Artistic Freedom initiative can support those efforts.

The Musanze District leadership expressed their appreciation for Ikirenga’s efforts in promoting arts and culture in the region. They commended previous initiatives undertaken by Ikirenga ACP in the district, such as the Ikirenga Culture Tourism Festival, which has become a crucial annual event that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Rwanda, the region, and beyond, fostering cultural exchange and appreciation.

Additionally, the district leaders highlighted their attendance at different initiatives of Ikirenga, including the recent launch of the Ikirenga Artistic Freedom Initiative, a collaborative project between Ikirenga and UNESCO aimed at promoting and safeguarding artistic freedom and the status of artists in Rwanda.

Judy Ogana expressed her gratitude for the district leaders’ warm reception and recognition of Ikirenga’s impactful work. She emphasized the importance of partnerships between organizations like Ikirenga and local leadership in driving positive change and fostering social development.

The visit to Musanze District provided a valuable opportunity for dialogue and collaboration, further strengthening the relationship between Ikirenga, UNESCO, and the local government, especially Musanze District.

Mr. Peter Hakizimana, the executive director of Ikirenga ACP highlighted that the organization will continue to foster relationships and partnerships with local leaders, communities, and other stakeholders to achieve its mission.

Judy had an opportunity to share her journey as an artist and the challenges she faced as an artist in her early years. During the visit, Judy was briefed on the residency program and the diverse topics covered, from legal frameworks to intellectual property rights, copyrights, and developing contracts, which are essential in empowering artists with the tools they need to thrive in their respective domains.

But it wasn’t all about paperwork. Judy Ogana delved into Rwanda’s cultural heritage, engaging with women crafting intricate handwoven baskets, pulsating to the rhythm of traditional drumming, and swaying to the melodies of timeless dances.

Among the many highlights of her visit was the opportunity to share a traditional Rwandan meal with the program’s beneficiaries. As she savored each bite, Ogana revelled in the warmth of Rwandan hospitality, a testament to the profound connection between food, culture, and community.

Judy Ogana talking to INTO RWANDA, commended Ikirenga for its unwavering commitment to empowering artists and fostering cultural exchange. She applauded the Ikirenga Artistic Freedom Initiative for providing its beneficiaries with invaluable opportunities for growth and expression.

“We are doing all we can to build capacity of the artists, so that they can be able to take their rightful place, understand what their legal requirements are, where the opportunities are, and also to express their challenges so that we can deal with them.” She added

The Executive Director of Ikirenga ACP also expressed profound gratitude to the dedicated participants of the residency program, highlighting their unwavering dedication to their craft. He also extended heartfelt thanks to UNESCO for their steadfast support throughout the project’s implementation.

During the event, Mr. Pierre remarked: “Today, as we witness the dedication and passion of the participants in our residency program, we are reminded of the transformative power of art and culture. Their commitment reaffirms our belief in the importance of providing platforms for artistic expression and growth. We extend our deepest gratitude to UNESCO for their invaluable support, and together, we will continue to nurture creativity and empower artists to shape a brighter future.”

As Judy Ogana bid farewell to Musanze, she left behind a legacy of collaboration and cultural celebration. Together, Ikirenga and UNESCO are paving the way for a future where artists are empowered, traditions are honoured, and creativity knows no bounds.

Judy Ogana was gifted a self-portrait [iSmartHouse]

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