On 15 and 16 October 2021, was held in Kigali a symposium focused on the development of cultural and creative industries. This symposium was part of the training in development and management of cultural projects initiated by Africalia as part of its programme in Rwanda. The symposium was attended by experts from Benin, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zimbabwe in addition to their Rwandan colleagues.
Participants were given presentations on the link between culture and sustainable development with specific experiences from the local Rwandan context. The initiatives of the Rwandan government in the field of cultural development were presented and discussed. The presence of the program officer at the National Commission for UNESCO in Rwanda, Mr. Jerome Kajuga, allowed participants to better understand the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and Rwanda’s initiatives in this direction. The last two reports of Rwanda on the issue were the subject of a lively discussion between the cultural actors and the presenter.
The events were all the more lively thanks to the involvement of the Director-General of the Rwanda Cultural Heritage Academy, the new institution introduced by the ministry to deal with heritage and cultural industries. Robert Masozera, who is in charge of the institution, talked about the academy’s work and activities. The institution may well be new, but it is committed to bringing stakeholders together to engage directly with umbrella organisations. His first move was to invite the participants to join the corporate federations. In Kinyarwanda, he argued in favour of the importance of working together and consolidating artists’ federations. The symposium was attended by the heads of the performing arts federations and the chairman of the Rwanda Arts Council.
The symposium was also an opportunity for the chairman of Rwanda’s Society of Authors, Jean de Dieu Turinimana, and his colleague from the Rwanda Development Board, Yvette Tumukunde, to address the issue of copyright by focusing on membership and protecting copyright in Rwanda. Many cultural operators deplored the lack of communication on the issue in Rwanda and expressed their desire for much more communication and actions on the part of the society to make sure that artists can really benefit from their copyright.
But how can you make a living in this sector in Rwanda ? Two artists shared their approach and business model. Moise Turahirwa, a young designer and the founder of Moshions, was happy to talk to participants about his experience. For him, the key to success continues to be hard work, training and most importantly, Rwanda’s cultural heritage. It is worth pointing out that Moshions has been around for 5 years and now counts the President of the Republic, the First Lady and the Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) among its customers. He explained that success comes from doing a good job and continuing to learn. Michael Sengazi, a comedian who won the RFI comedy prize, and his manager, Jérôme Ndamaga, explained their business model to the participants, with a particular focus on failures. These failures form the foundations of many more successes.
The symposium ended with the main resolution of setting up platforms for regular meetings between cultural stakeholders and official organisations.
Account of Espéra Donouvossi, in charge of the Cultural Administration programme initiated by Africalia in Rwanda.