In November 2019, creative and global health leaders from 19 countries convened in Kigali, Rwanda for the inaugural edition of Hamwe Festival to celebrate the collaboration between the creative industries and the global health field.

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The Rwandan based University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) created this festival with the dual mission to celebrate the contributions of creative communities to the global health equity agenda and enable artists, scholars, and global health professionals to collaborate to improve health around the world. During Hamwe Festival the health sector together with the creative industries explored new ideas and perspectives and engaged a diverse audience on the links between arts and health.

The festival began with an opening ceremony featuring speakers from UGHE and Partners in Health (PIH) leadership, including PIH CEO Sheila Davis, DNP, UGHE Chancellor Dr. Paul Farmer, and UGHE Vice Chancellor Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, as well as Honorable Minister of Youth Rosemary Mbabazi. This was also a great opportunity to launch an exhibition called Beauty As Medicine Exhibition, curated by the Kigali arts house Maison Beaulier, exploring the positive impact visual arts have on wellbeing.

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The next day, the French philosopher and psychoanalyst, Cynthia Fleury, shared on the role of arts and humanities in health care. During an engaging lecture, she described the work conducted by the Chairs of Philosophy she created, first in Parisian hospitals but that now exist in other French hospitals and in Mali.

The festival’s flagship event was the She Matters Concert, in partnership with Globe-athon. Rwandese singer, actress, and supporter of domestic violence victims, Nirere Shanel, performed ahead of the evening’s centerpiece; Grammy award-winning Malian singer Oumou Sangare, a legendary artist using her platform to advocate for women’s rights. 

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UGHE also welcomed a group of students from all over the world to participate in a two-day Arts in Health masterclass, coached by lecturers such as Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, the Vice Chancelor of the University of Global Health Equity, Award winning filmmaker Dr. Mehret Mandefro, Sharon Kalima, and leading pioneers in the field of arts and health. Designed as an evening of discussion, the ‘Hamwe Talks’ hosted the WHO’s Arts & Health Lead, Chris Bailey, alongside Didi Bertrand of the Women and Girls Initiative, award-winning documentary photographer Yagazie Emezi, and more.

The festival culminated in a night of dance. The evening showcased the collaboration between world-renowned researcher and dance movement therapist Dr. Rainbow Ho and acclaimed Rwandese dancer and choreographer Wesley Ruzibiza, who choreographed performances that represented how dance can be a tool to resolve physical and mental health issues. 

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Hamwe Festival is the latest example of UGHE’s commitment to radically transforming health education and health service delivery as well as the University’s acknowledgement of the growing evidence base for the role of the arts in improving health and wellbeing.

The problems that exist in the field of global health are complex and multi-faceted, and therefore require cross-sector collaboration to generate new perspectives to solve these challenges. Through UGHE, Hamwe Festival can help build these bridges and engage the global health communities and the general public.

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To find out more about Hamwe Festival and the plans for 2020, please contact Injonge Karangwa, Hamwe Festival Chief Organizer.

Read The New Times article about the festival:


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