The Great African Caravan a hit in Kigali leg of its tour

Friday December 21 2018

A collaborative dance piece at Mamba Club in Kigali, Rwanda.

A collaborative dance piece at Mamba Club in Kigali, Rwanda. PHOTO | ANDREW I. KAZIBWE | NMG 

By ANDREW I KAZIBWE
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Fusion, free will and immense creativity through live performances are what The Great African Caravan is all about.

Made up of artists from four continents a mission of touring 12 countries, it is clear that even though artists come from totally different countries and backgrounds, they speak the same language of music, poetry, dance and art. And the performances are thrilling to say the least.
In partnership with Unesco, the Great African Caravan project has incorporated over 12 international artists from Argentina, Kosovo, Germany, Burundi, India, Rwanda, Uganda, and the UK among others, on a 200-days tour, across 12 African countries.

Some of the artists have been on tour before, but as individuals.

This initiative therefore is the first to jointly incorporate a group of divergent artists into an artistic outreach.

The objective of the Caravan is connecting communities and people across the globe, through embracing the philosophy of global citizenship, through live performances and art workshops.

The Great African Caravan recently concluded its Kigali embrace in Rwanda.

The four-day co-creation exercise, which kicked off on November 26, brought together a cocktail of talented artists from musicians, filmmakers, visual artists, instrumentalists, graphic designers to spoken word performers and rappers led by guest acts Akram Feroz, an Indian Theatre director, Alley Lloyd, a UK film director, Charan GP, an Indian artist curator, Helen Hashler, a German photographer, Ife Piankhi, a UK-Ugandan based poet, Shivi Bhatnagar, an Indian filmmaker, Yllka Lota, a Kosovo actress and Indian filmmaker Sathya Pakala, who met with Rwandan rising talents.

Collaboration

Having set off from Cape Town, South Africa on August 25 this year, the Caravan, which has incorporated hundreds of artists aims at collaborating with local creative communities into co-creating binding intergenerational art works on locally relevant topics under the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals to raise awareness, learn from one another, and connect in the spirit of global citizenship.

“My whole motivation of joining this, is to create a divergent way of thinking about the world and ourselves,” explains Ife Piankhi, a UK-Ugandan based poet and creative facilitators.

Connecting Boundaries, just as the name goes, is a journey of specifically a long trail of nights and days characterised by long road travels, passionate collaborations, emotional ups, which in a nut shell have all been deemed rewarding.

To Piankhi, movement by land is more connecting, and of great learning. “You get to see more of the landscape, see and talk and connect deeper with the people, than when you fly,” she said.

The Great African Caravan is characterised by a fusion of hundreds of artists, several organisations and masses of youthful engagement all achieved through song performances, productions, and murals which are created following mutual artists workshops.

So far the Caravan has travelled through South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, while in East Africa it has already been to Tanzania and Rwanda.

More learning

To Deo Munyakazi, a Rwandan traditional vocalist and instrumentalist, the sessions offered more learning, “It is a humbling experience learning from experienced musicians, while also teaching them a thing or two,” he said.

With Rwanda being the fifth country of the tour, in partnership with AfroGroov, a Rwandan events company, the experience was one nurtured by reciprocative ideas and concepts to spark new conversations about the Afro-cultural life in the 21st century.

Exercises initially thrive right from open workshops, through which artists debate, and reflect on society.

“It hasn’t been easy, we face challenges too as there is so much more we have to explore as artists, lessons we have to live, and it’s a general struggle rooting from societies we root from,” she explains.

Performance sessions were characterised with deep live music stages, which featured a blend of Afro-blues, R & B and rap presentations.

It was special how all the artists jointly grace stages, and boundlessly deliver a performance.

Through engagement in dialogues, sharing skills and knowledge, the presentations kicked off with live preview as artists Bruce Niyonkuru ‘Kanda’, Innocent Buregeya, Salibum and Shikhant Sablinia created murals at Kigali’s Mamba Club.

As part of its prospects, The Great African Caravan aims at further setting up a festival, organise summits, to enhance a network of lasting artistry.

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