2021 Hamwe Festival Prevails with Reflection on Pandemic and health.

Monday November 29 2021
Dr. Agnes Binagwaho (left) joins other guest panelists in a discussion session during the 2021 Hamwe Festival.

Dr. Agnes Binagwaho (left) joins other guest panelists in a discussion session during the 2021 Hamwe Festival. PHOTO | ANDREW I. KAZIBWE

In reflection of the still prevailing times, the 2021 Hamwe Festival set in a unique milestone as regards sparking debate upon the unprecedented global pandemic times.

The festival organized by the University Of Global Health And Equity (UGHE) annually presents a cocktail for activities geared in the spirit of using the Arts as a tool for healing.

Initiated in 2019, the festival’s first edition marked a great kick-start to collaborative spirit between the creative industry and the health sector. Though faced by the COVID-19 lockdown woos, the festival’s second edition in 2020, which prevailed in virtual mode attracted over 26,000 viewers under its focus on Mental Health and Social Justice through the lens of the arts and art-based research.

Third edition, the festival which kicked off on November 10th till 14th is one that further cements the University’s core goal of using the Arts as a remedy in healing.

With its reflection on the social, economic, economical to political changes that have occurred since the COVID-19 pandemic’s sprout, this edition further highlighted changes in line with their link to society’s health and social systems and the imbalances within them.

A contemporary dance performance during the 2021 Hamwe Festival.

A contemporary dance performance during the 2021 Hamwe Festival. PHOTO | ANDREW I. KAZIBWE


With a theme which has been pandemics, confinement, and social changes, it shone more light onto the Global Pandemic presented interactions through; Panel Discussions, film screenings, Photography, music, theatre, and dance- all reflective of the Pre-pandemic to tougher lockdown times.

The festival, which has this year attracted speakers and artists from 13 countries featured presentations from Edouard Bamporiki, the State Minister in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, as a representative from the Government of Rwanda, Professor. Agnes Binagwaho, UGHE’s Vice-Chancellor, and Dr. Sheila Davis, the Partners in Health (PIH)’s CEO, all jointly contemplated through discussion on the festival’s theme.

Among other distinguished guests included; Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, the Rwanda Biometrical Centre(RBC)’s Director-General, alongside Cultural experts like Hope Azeda, Mashirika Arts and Media Company’s Director, Judith Kaine, the Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga founder and Injonge Karangwa, UGHE’s Director, Arts and Culture in Global Public Health Engagement.

Alongside interactive panel discussions that prevailed through the festival’s program, were also other programs like Visualizing the Virus, an exercise which consisted of short-film screenings sessions, coupled with discussions by Rwandan filmmakers. Films premiered further were reflective of the intangible effects brought about by the global pandemic.

As part of the festival too were other entertaining and far contemplative live stage performances like Music, Contemporary dance, theatre, and a photography exhibition, which were hosted by various venues in Kigali which included; Kigali Public LibraryKigali Centre of PhotographyL’Espace and the Rwanda Revenue Authority Auditorium, which attracted several enthusiasts to the cause.

Hamwe Festival has been made possible by major partnerships like WelcomeTrust, an independent global charitable foundation, as part of Mindscapes, their international cultural program about mental health. WellcomeTrust is for the second year in a row closely in partnership with the festival.