By Ange Theonastine Ashimwe

There is so much more to art festivals than the art itself. And I am not talking about the over-priced beer, countless tequila shots, or bodies hugging each other like a second skin. No, I am talking about the bigger picture, the greater experience, what you take with you long after the artists have left and your sunburn has faded.

For three days, I was lucky to attend the Hamwe festival and experience it for myself. And I can say, art is truly a border-less language.

The Hamwe Festival was an interactive freak-fest, and the experience was out of this world. Imagine taking a trip to Mars without wearing a spacesuit. Look, I could go on and on making metaphors to try and explain the things I felt, but the truth is, Hamwe Festival was so amazing that words can’t do it justice.

If you didn’t make it to the event to see it yourself, you can satisfy your eye-candy craving with YouTube videos. It might not be as big of a trip as the real thing, but I can guarantee less of a hangover afterward. Though, you may end up craving for more.

Beauty as Medicine, curated by Maison Beaulier – November 8th -10th

Beauty as Medicine Art Exhibition showed how beauty, colors, and art have a positive impact on health and well-being.

The exhibition took place at Kigali Convention Center, and the artworks displayed depicted different feelings like the brain’s reaction to the pain, stress, and anxiety.

She Matters Concert – November 10th

She matters concert showcased artists who have used their voices and platforms to advocate for women’s rights like Shanel Nirere. Once again, with her voice and her so last weekend outfit in Kitenge style, she brought back my childhood memories. Maybe I was stoned, but I remember singing along with her when she started her song Ndarota and Nakutaka.

Shanel song named Atura was my favorite, as she blended in testimonies of women sharing their stories of domestic violence.

She was joined by Oumou Sangare, all the way from Mali. A Grammy Award-winning Malian songbird who has been advocating for her fellow women’s rights for many decades. And it was astonishing how she was moving her body with the beats on the stage.

Dance and Global Health Night – 12th November

The festival ended on a high note at Kigali Culture Village with a dance therapy session which showcased how dance has been used as a tool to resolve physical and mental health issues. The night featured Dr. Rainbow Ho award-winning researcher and dancer from the University of Hong Kong in collaboration with Wesley Ruzibiza, founder of Rwandan-based, Amizero Dance Company. 

“Dance gives me a chance and space to express myself.” Dr. Rainbow mentioned at Hamwe Festival as he continued to depict dance as a tool for free communication beyond traditional language.

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