Events that shaped Rwanda's social calendar in 2015

2015 has been one exciting year; and we have a pretty impressive social calendar to prove it. From gorilla naming to silent discos to mega concerts, 2015 has seen it all. And the good news is that some of Kigali’s new and hip events are now an annual celebration. Let’s take a look at some of the social events that rocked 2015, writes Dean Karemera.

Car-free zone’s silent disco and live art painting

Kigali City made history this year with the inauguration of a car-free zone area, and with it came hip events on the social calendar. There was the launch of a silent street party where revelers listen to music through wireless headphones connected to internet WiFi. This was also seen as a move to reduce noise pollution in the central business district without killing the fun. Business goes on as usual while people dance away.


 The Silent Disco at the car-free zone.

For a price of Rwf5000, revelers listen to different genres of music through two channels while they enjoy drinks served at Camellia Tea House. Also, art lovers were delighted at the launch of a live art painting exhibit dubbed ‘Rwanda Art Exhibition’. People can have their own portraits done instantly. The event was created to enhance painting skills with the use of creativity and innovation.

Dîner en Blanc

The fourth annual edition of Dîner en Blanc took place with the customary all-white attire that makes revelers look like a parade of angels having fun. The event that dates back to 1988 in France has spread like a wild fire across the world. It takes place at a secret outdoor space whose location is announced just a few minutes to the start of the event. It also emphasises that guests carry their own food and drinks to the venue.


Revelers take selfies at Diner en Blanc.

For the duration of the event, it is gated off to the public with live performances as well as DJ mixes. The event also awards the best dressed couple, best decorated table, and most creative female, most creative male and most elegant female. It also aims at being part of the country’s MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Events) tourism strategy to promote local businesses and entrepreneurs.

Stromae’s homecoming concert

He came and he conquered. That’s how one can summarise Paul Van Haver, aka Stromae’s, concert in Kigali. After breaking off his world tour due to sickness, when he finally come, he left Kigali in awe of his mastery dances, incredible genre of songs and introspective themes that reflect the message in his songs.


Stromae’s homecoming concert attracted an estimated 20,000 people. 

Not only that, it was also a lesson for our musicians in terms of stage performance, live singing and stage production. With over 20,000 people including diplomats, expatriates, government officials and the First Lady converging to witness a historic concert, Stromae’s homecoming concert was as emotional and entertaining for him as it was for Rwandans.

Miss Rwanda 2015

It was all glamour and pomp as 19-year-old Doriane Kundwa fought off stiff competition from 15 girls to land the title of Miss Rwanda 2015.


Doriane Kundwa, Miss Rwanda 2015

The event, that was marred by poor planning last year, saw major improvements that included awarding the winner, preparations and training the girls. The girls fielded questions ranging from their knowledge of culture, development, education, current affairs and politics, among others.

Kwita Izina/Nyanza Festival

By now, it is safe to say that Kwita Izina is one of the most popular events on the social calendar after taking place for a record 11th time. The country’s biggest tourism attraction is inspired by the ancient Rwandan tradition of naming newborn babies and is geared towards conserving mountain gorillas. This year, 24 gorillas were named, the biggest number since the inception of the event, 11 years ago.


‘Gorilla’ actors mesmerised attendees of the 2015 Kwita Izina celebrations this year.

In the same spirit of making tourism a major revenue generating sector, Nyanza Festival, popularly known as ‘Inyanza twataramye’, took place for the second time in a row. The event comprises of traditional shows that include songs, poetry, arts and crafts, alongside traditional food preparations and sports.

The event takes place at Rwesero Art Museum in Nyanza, which is the country’s former capital, and is home to the official residence of the country’s last monarch. The concerts help to preserve cultural values among Rwandans.

Primus GumaGuma Super Star 5

It is no doubt that Jeanne d’Arc Butera, aka Knowless, is a lady of many ‘firsts’. She is arguably the first female Rwandan pop musician to break out on such a large scale. She has won various awards, performed at international festivals, nominated in continental and regional awards and sold out most of her concerts. She is also the first female musician to name a gorilla at a Kwita Izina event.


Knowless won Primus Guma Guma Super Star 5

As if these achievements are not enough, she went ahead and won the Primus GumaGuma Super Star (PGGSS) season 5 competition, beating nine other musicians, and making her the first female musician to achieve this feat. PGGSS has become a permanent fixture on the social calendar and has continued to pull crowds around the country during roadshows.

Ubumuntu Arts Festival

Post-genocide Rwanda is driven by the spirit of humanity and lessons from a dark past. Efforts have been geared towards educating the youth about the tragedies of the past and one of the ways used is through performing arts such as Ubumuntu Arts Festival.


The Cast of Dear Children, a collaborative effort between Sri Lankan and Rwandan performers.

The festival seeks to use art as a channel for solving social problems. Art has been used by Genocide perpetrators to give truthful testimonies and victims to forgive perpetrators. However, this also gives an opportunity to young talented people to develop their skills in various fields of art such as poetry, drama and contemporary dance routines among others. After its first successful launch this year, the annual event attracted people from far and wide who came together to learn from each other.

Spoken Word

As art takes shape in Rwanda, Spoken Word has provided a platform for people to express themselves through poetry, storytelling and monologues in different forms of speech and gestures.

The monthly event brings together professionals, expatriates, tourists, students and artistes who perform in various languages, including English, French and Kinyarwanda. The event that is marking close to five years now has continued to grow while nursing ambitions of becoming self-sustaining as well as rewarding.

Hobe Rwanda

Even with Western culture diluting local culture, a few individuals came together to find ways in which we can preserve our culture. Hobe Rwanda Festival, the brain child of Raoul Rugamba, together with other culture enthusiasts, took place for the third time this year and featured renowned Rwandan performers, artists, painters, poets, dancers, singers and traditional instrumentalists.


Gakondo Group performs at Hobe Rwanda Festival.

Activities usually centre on cultural teachings and performances. Prominent artists to feature at the festival include Emmanuel Nkuranga, Mathew Rugamba, Augustine Hakizimana and Patrick Ruganintwali among others.

Musicians have included Maria Yohana, Mani Martin, Muyango, Massamba and Gakondo Group and Inganzo Ngali.

Kigali Up

Anyone who has attended Kigali Up will tell you one thing; it gives lasting memories like no other. The festival that celebrated five years in existence this year is full of diverse activities, art exhibitions, crafts shops, live music, DJ mixes, games and eateries with different food stalls with both local and international dishes.


Ugandan singer Eddy Kenzo performed in this year's Kigali Up Festival.

The event, that attracts over ten thousand people in just two days, has been graced by international musicians such as Joey Blake and Rhonda Benin from the United States of America, Didier Awadi from Senegal, Eddy Kenzo from Uganda and Sauti Sol from Kenya, among others.

Besides focusing on boosting Rwanda as a growing tourist destination, Kigali Up has featured local musicians such as Mighty Popo, Alpha Rwirangira, Angel Umutoni, Christopher, Ras Kayaga and Emery Gastsinzi aka Riderman.

Mutzig Beerfest

Say what you will but when beer and good music come together, it’s an amazing experience. Courtesy of Bralirwa, Mutzig Beerfest was on again this year and after terrible mistakes at last year’s venue, Juru Park, due to a big turn-up, it was taken to Rugende Training Grounds. The Mutzig Beerfest is inspired by Germany’s Oktoberfest, the largest annual beer festival in the world.


Mafikizolo thrill the crowd at the Mutzig Beerfest. (File photos)

This year, the festival brought South African singing duo Mafikizolo and Uganda’s powerhouse Lillian Mbabazi and the Sundowners. It also had local musicians such as Nubian Gypsies, Ben Ngabo, Mani Martin, Mike Kayihura, Neptunes, Jules Sentore and the Mico Band.

Barge Party


Revelers afloat the boat at the Barge Party.

Most of us are accustomed to dancing on floors built of concrete brick or blocks, not on a boat in the middle of a lake, swinging from side to side. That’s what the Barge Party is all about; revelers party on a boat while sailing on Lake Kivu while viewing the beautiful islands on the lake.

Barge Party is divided into two categories; ‘Fun in the Sun,’ a day-time cruise and ‘Tidal Rave,’ a night cruise.

They are both held on a barge that used to carry beer in the Kivu region but it has since been transformed into a party platform. According to the organisers, it’s all about “hosting the best party of the year, transforming a working machine into a work of art, and inspiring people to dance,” and for three years, they have lived up to their mantra.

Kigali Fashion Week

Fashion design and modeling are taking Rwanda by storm and this couldn’t have been possible without events like Kigali Fashion Week (KFW).


Models showcased various designs at this year's Kigali Fashion Week. 

The bi-annual event, a member of the commonwealth fashion council, seeks to open doors for Rwandan designers and models to other commonwealth countries and a chance to grow the fashion and modeling in Rwanda.

Young talented fashion designers now have the opportunity to grow their wings to international standards after KFW launched the Rwanda Fashion Council. This year’s events attracted around 80 to 100 models and designers from Rwanda, USA, and Europe.

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