Kigali Up! Rwandan Music Festival

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Country and Region RwandaKigali City
Type of Festival Music
Location of Festival Kigali City, Kigali City, Rwanda
Festival Contact Information

Popo Murigande, Chair
Planet Folk inc. and producer, KigaliUp
Phone: 1-613-565-0997
Mobile: 1-613-620-4011 cell

Kerry Clarke, Vice-chair
Planet Folk Inc.
Phone: 1-403-233-0904
Mobile: 1-403-807-7313

Festival Description

Kigali Up, the festival Mighty Popo and a myriad of Canadian festival pros and industry insiders was founded in 2011. The festival will take place one of the capital of Kigali’s green, leafy parks. In bringing together urban upstarts, tradition bearers, and established international artists — and getting them to improvise together on one stage — KigaliUp! was inspired by the Canadian approach to outdoor festivals; by their musical spontaneity, sense of community, and positive impact on their host areas.

KigaliUp! gives Rwandan music a new, central platform, and give Rwandan musicians fresh exposure to international performers and their approaches. Along with Rwandan musical talent, hotels, restaurants, artisans, tour operators, and local dealers in everything from sound equipment to fencing stand to benefit from KigaliUp! and the visitors it will attract to the region. Tourists will gain as well: An unheralded success story, Rwanda’s increasingly stable economy and political peace mean royal palaces and coffee collectives, mountain gorilla sanctuaries and volcano parks are just waiting for visitors to discover.

Building on local concepts of mutual aid, the festival is working to bring young people into the fold, as volunteers, professional staff, and vendors, boosting skills and enthusiasm as well as incomes. “We don’t want to simply plop down a Canadian-style festival in Kigali,” Popo says. “We want to encourage local people to build it. It is their festival. They need to shape it.”

Festival Dates July 13 - 14, 2013
Festival Links

Festival Story:

For most Westerners, Rwanda speaks of one thing: the country’s bitter recent history. But nearly two decades after a devastating civil war and genocide, life in Rwanda has changed dramatically for the better. The country is politically stable. It’s young, growing and culturally curious.

Though the kind of outdoor festival familiar to music lovers across North America doesn’t exist in the region, Mighty Popo and Kerry Clarke (artistic director of the Calgary Folk Festival and co-director of KigaliUp!) discovered avid local support, and many local analogues that made the Canadian folk festival model a good fit.

These parallels shaped Popo’s life as a young Rwandan refugee in Burundi. Popo grew up sharing guitar licks and tips with a community of like-minded players, dashing from house to house to trade new discoveries. After immigration took him far from home, he stumbled delightedly on a similar vibe as an artist on the Canadian festival circuit. At “workshops” (the on-the-fly jam sessions that bring diverse performers together at Canadian festivals), Popo got a chance to learn from and savor the artistry of very different musicians, from indie rockers to hip hop MCs. Rwandan artists like Nzayisenga are only one part of the Rwandan community KigaliUp! is engaging. The festival strives to enhance the local economy, through tourism and local involvement at all levels.


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