Friday, 27 September 2019 09:23


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“The time has come for the East African Countries to come together to bring development in our countries through utilizing our cultural diversities in trade, education and tourism to promote social, economic and intellectual cohesion and intergration.” – H.E Samia Suluhu- Deputy President United Republic of Tanzania
From the cultural dances, to the attires, to the songs and the food, to the artifacts and souvenirs that is what one expects in the Jumuiya ya Afrika Mashariki Utamaduni Festival (JAMAFEST). This is an EAC Arts and Culture Festival which aims to promote regional socio-cultural integration through arts and culture by providing a platform to showcase culture as a primary driver of regional integration. Jamafest came to life after the EAC Council of Ministers in September 2011 directed the EAC Secretariat to organize regular festivals of the kind, and Rwanda was consequently selected to host the first edition of the Festival in 2013, with Kenya hosting the 2015 edition and Uganda the 2017 edition. It is envisaged the festival will be held biennially and hosted by Partner States rotationally. The 2019 edition of the Festival held in Dar es salaam, Tanzania on 20th – 29th September 2019 and was themed “Cultural Diversity: A Key Driver to Regional Integration, Economic Growth and Promotion of Tourism”.
The Ministry of Sports, Culture and Social Services in partnership with the Council of Governors and the County Governments came together to get cultural troupes and individuals to represent the Country in activities such as; the carnival, art exhibitions, a symposium, live performances, films, literary works, a fashion show, culinary arts and tradition games.
Some of the key performances in the official opening ceremony, Team Kenya, gave a stunning performance on “Tushangilie Kenya” a renown patriotic song, led by the author, David Wasongo and supported by all Kenyan performing teams like the MMUST Choir, the dodo dancers from Aher0, the Mijikenda dancers from Coast, the Tharaka Nithi Drummers and many more performers, unified to celebrate and showcase the beauty of Kenya in a song. The Burundi Dance group gave an outstanding performance while beating the huge drums that they carried on their heads and the women danced beautifully to the tunes of the drums. The Rwandan dancers were not left behind as they gracefully entered the stadium showcasing their famous cultural dance. The men stamped their feet tied with bells to give rhythm to their dance and the women were like beautiful peacocks dancing and expressing themselves with their long arms and waists, their smiles were infectious and eyes were locked on them as they performed their act.
Speaking during the official opening, the Deputy President of the United Republic of Tanzania indicated, “We as Tanzanians are glad to host the 4th Edition of the JAMAFEST, we are glad that in the next few days we will interact with participants from the East African Community and take pride in our different yet very similar African traditions and Culture.” She added that, “The time has come for the East African Countries to come together to bring development in our countries through utilizing our cultural diversities in trade, education and tourism to promote social, economic and intellectual cohesion and integration.” She finished her remarks by saying, “The people of Tanzania are very peaceful Country that has very many tourist destinations that I encourage all participants to visit, eat our different cuisines that are readily available and enjoy or beautiful country that is very secure.”
Also speaking during the ceremony, was the Chairman of the EAC Council of Ministers, Hon Dr. Ali Kirunda Kivenjija, and Uganda’s Deputy Prime Minister who noted that JAMAFEST is one of the activities that is envisaged to bring tangible benefits of regional integration. In his speech, he noted that “The EAC is determined to ensure that accessibility of the various regions is brought to reality so that we can enlarge our markets and common interests. This festival allows our people to see the various opportunities that lie within our cultural traditions in the various areas could be tapped into. The EAC is proud to bring together all the partnering states to have discussions on how we can improve our regional integration, enhance our economic growth and promote tourism in the various countries.”
In the preceding days, the performing teams had various platforms to showcase their acts as well as the technocrats who sat down to present various technical papers on what could be done in line with the theme of this year’s festival.
A take away for the County Governments, was an opportunity to replicate the same at the Country level, since Kenya has a diversity of cultures, this should be an annual event that brings together all our cultures and all groups to showcase their acts before the biannual festival as this will only enhance the visibility of team Kenya as well as showcase our diversity.

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