Public Communications Office

Date   : 10th August, 2015

By Sammy Kwichichi Wekesa

The 2nd Jumuiya Ya Afrika Mashariki Utamaduni Festival was closed by the Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and The Arts, Dr. Hassan Wario during a colorful ceremony held at Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Nairobi. The ceremony drew high flying participants from the Partner States of the East Africa, namely Kenya as hosts, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Dr. Wario called on the East African Community member States’ government to allocate more resources in the management of culture and arts if they expected the Political Federation to become a reality in the near future. “Further, JAMAFEST has further exposed the fact that within the EAC Partner States, there is an abundance of creative assets with a huge economic potential to promote growth, job creation, and increase our export earnings’’, he stressed.

He further advised the governments of the five-member states to develop strategies through which the region can benefit from this lucrative trade opportunity in culture and arts to realize development gains in line with the Common Market Protocol.

Amongst the high ranking participants included EAC Deputy Secretary General Madam Jesca Eriya, six members of Parliament from Uganda led by their minister for Disability and the Elderly Hon. Suleiman Madada Kooze, Director of Administration in the State Department of East African Affairs Mr. D. Musumbu, Director of Social Affairs, within the State Department of East African Affairs Madam Alice Yalla, Principal Secretary in charge of Sports, Culture and The Arts, Amb. Richard Ekai, among others.

Earlier, Deputy President Mr. William Ruto in his official opening remarks called on the East African Community (EAC) Partner States to nurture the Arts and Culture as one way of ensuring that the envisaged EAC Political Federation becomes a reality in the near future.

He said the Kenya government established a Ministry responsible for Sports, Culture and the Arts because it believes creativity and culture are so important, they need a home. The goal is to ensure that country pays particular attention to the implementation of policies for the promotion and development of creative talents.

The EAC Partner States under Article 119 of the EAC treaty, added Mr. Ruto, undertook to promote close co-operation amongst themselves in culture and sports, with respect to the promotion of cultural activities, including the fine arts, literature, music and performing arts and other artistic creations as one way of creating an East African as one Community.

The 20th Meeting of the East African Community Council of Ministers held on 20th March 2010 and subsequent Council of Ministers’ Meeting held in September 2011, directed the EAC Secretariat to organize regular EAC Arts and Culture Festival in the EAC Partner States on rotational basis. The first edition was held in February 2013 in Kigali Rwanda and attracted an audience of over 17,500 people.

“We are here today as people with a common destiny; as a people with a common aspiration; we are here because we understand that the mutual appreciation of our unique cultures is one of the best ways to strengthen the East African bond. We are here because there is nothing as powerful as using the arts and our talents to tell the East African story”, stressed Mr. Ruto.

Dr. Wario said that now that JAMAFEST was over, we should focus on other Arts, and cultural initiatives in the EAC region that includes; the Kalasha film and TV Awards; the Tusker Project Fame; Sakata Mashariki; schools music and drama festivals, beauty and fashion pageants and annual cultural festivals held in Universities, such as the Kenyatta University cultural week.

The East African Community Deputy Secretary –General Madam Jesca Eriya, said the dreams of JAMAFES had been fulfilled through symposiums, live performances, comedy, cultural tours participants in the outreach programmes have also left indelible mark to Kenyans. The event over- shot the budgeted participants, where a total of 1,121 registered and participated in the festival.

She added, Kenya led with 450, followed by Uganda 260, Tanzania 215, Rwanda 70 while Burundi had 70 participants. In expressions such as music, dance, drama, art and crafts, people shared norms and values were are able to express their unity but even more importantly they pledged to sustain it for generations.

Uganda’s Minister in charge of Disability Mr.Kyeba Kooze called on the EAC Governments to allocate more resources towards the building of culture and the Arts amongst the partner states’ people. He asked the EAC Secretariat to approve their request to host the 3rd Jamafest celebrations in Uganda in 2017.

Amongst the objectives of the festival include; the fostering the economic development of the EAC through nurturing growth of a strong creative and cultural industry sector; bring together East African Cultural Practitioners and administrators to celebrate the rich and diverse cultural heritage as well as contemporary practice of East Africa.

EAC Secretariat Secretary General Dr. Richard Sezibera commended the Kenya Government for hosting the festival, which has attracted artists, musicians and dancers from the region with international reputation.

The closing ceremony was also attended by Local organizing committee chairman Mr. Wenslaus Ong’ayo, Festival Director Mr. Nicholas Ole Moipei, among others.