Culture and Arts as Engine of Integration: EAC Jamafest 2017

Culture is a primary driver of unity and integration in the East African Community. The EAC Jamafest 2017, taking place from 07 to 15 September in Kampala, Uganda, brings together all EAC Partner States in celebrating culture and creative industries under the theme “The Drum Call”. The Drum Call and the symbol of the drum cut across all the indigenous cultures of East Africa and beyond, to call people together, to inform and to communicate important news. And this is also the idea of Jamafest 2017 – gathering the people of East Africa.

Deep basses of drum beats, rhythmic chanting of countless voices and the soft ringing of pearls and bells wrapped around ankles and necks accompanied the grand opening of the Jamafest 2017.

Ugandan traditional dances at the cultural night of Jamafest 2017 at the Uganda National Theatre

Burundian, Kenyan, Tanzanian, South Sudanese, Rwandese and Ugandan men, women and children perform, exhibit and discuss side by side. At the ceremonial grounds they catch the audience with their enchanting dancing, acrobatic performances and driving drum beats. No one can remain seated any longer! The colourful stalls with handcrafted products and diverse specialities of all the different regions of East Africa attract a broad audience and serve every taste. The symposium running from the 11-14th September at Hotel Africana, Kampala engages all the thinkers and speakers to share ideas and find resolution to achieve policy shifts in the EAC through the impact of culture. As keynote speaker Sister Dominic Dipio, Professor of Literature and Film at Makerere University puts it: “The soul of a community resides in their culture and their arts” and “science without humanity is blind”.

IIDEA is exhibiting together with its partners who actively engage in cultural activities across borders, promoting regional integration through arts and culture. The Jamafest provides a platform for IIDEA and its partners to showcase their projects, present a panel list, identify future partners for their implementation or project scaling. These IIDEA partners are:

Bayimba Cultural Foundations, who are also the organizers of Jamafest 2017 and Festival directors. Based in Uganda they focus on social and economic development across the region by initiating the DOADOA, the East African market for performing arts.

Danceteam Africa is training young East-African artists in the performance arts. Their PAYA project brings together young artists from Kenya and Tanzania and plans to expand to Uganda in 2017.

EASTAFAB, the East Africa Art Biennale Association moves artwork across borders in a truck moving from Dar Es Salaam to the East African regional capitals in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to showcase mini-Biennales.

NACOFU develop a platform for young people to access employment opportunities and unleash the academic, entrepreneurial and cultural skills and competences of young people in Uganda and Kenya.

CDEA, the Creative Economy Incubator for EAC’s arts focuses on mobility of creatives in the film, music, fashion and design industries from Uganda to participate in incubator activities in Tanzania. Anne Ayeta Wangusa, the executive director CDEA also contributes to the symposium with her key note on the Tanzanian Film and Music Industries and her analysis of the Industry specific framework conditions relevant for growth and investment.

The IIDEA partners and Joyce from the IIDEA team in front of our exhibition space at Jamafest 2017

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