June is here,

and the countdown to Ubumuntu Art Festival 2016 is on. Only 4 weeks to go! From all the talented artist we are blessed to grace our festival, we picked two to feature in this newsletter. So enjoy this little sneak peak of what is about to come. Also, we want to shine a spotlight on our sponsors and partners that make this journey possible. A big thanks to everyone supporting us!

Spotlight on Thembi Mtshali Jones

Multi-talented Thembi Mtshali-Jones is one of South Africa’s most celebrated artists as a singer, actress and playwright. We are honored to welcome her to Ubumuntu Art Festival. 

Growing up under apartheid and later working as a nanny, Thembi's future in art only entered the picture when she got cast for a chorus in a theater show. Since then Thembi starred in, wrote and co-wrote numerous plays and extended her career to television. As a singer she worked with artists like Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba and Sipho Gumede, as well as recording solo albums of her own. A highlight of her singing career was being asked to sing Happy Birthday to then President Nelson Mandela for his 80th Birthday in 1998.  

On day two of Ubumuntu Art Festival you can experience Thembi's powerful acting skills in "Mother to Mother". The play is a beautifully imagined conversation between the mother of a killer and the mother of the victim. It allows a deeply empathic theatrical encounter, exploring how one unforgiving moment in an ordinary day has repercussions beyond the imaginable. The tour-de-force monologue makes for powerful and profoundly moving theatre delivered with dignity, sensitivity and humor by Thembi Mtshali-Jones. Her performance was described by the Bermuda Royal Gazette as being “spectacular throughout. She delivered pitch-perfect emotional drama, exquisitely timed comedy, soul-shaking song, and several spot on character studies. The story was portrayed as if it were a part of her; a personal tragedy from which she was desperately seeking redemption."

If you want to find out more about Thembi, read The Guardian's piece about the life of the artist:

Or listen to Thembi's song "I am an African":

Spotlight on Mokhallad Rasem

Mokhallad Rasem (Bagdad, 1981) trained as a director and actor in Bagdad, where he also made his first productions. But the war in Iraq changed the course of his life and for the last eight years he has been living and working in Belgium. The work he produces is breathtaking, associative and fragmentary in construction, clear and expressive in its ideas. 

On December 17th 2010 a young Tunisian street vendor called Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in protest against the regime. What followed was an extraordinary year of uprisings which broke out all over the Middle East, a wave of protest which was soon known as the “Arab Spring”. These events inspired theater-maker Mokhallad Rasem to work on the piece he is brining to Ubumuntu Art Festival. 

The media showed a flood of pictures of oppression, unfair elections, corruption, price increases, lack of political freedom, unemployment, protests and demonstrations. In "Body Revolution", Mokhallad asks what effect these images have on artists who live in Belgium but have their roots in Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, Syria and other Arab counties. How do they process the information that reaches them from family and friends who stayed behind? What impact does that information have? How do they feel? And how do their bodies react to violence and fear? In his search for an answer to these questions he uses dance and projection. The result is a stunning piece that makes for a powerful addition to Ubumuntu Art Festival and will be shown on day three.

Here you can find out more about Mokhallad Rasem:

Or get a sneak-peak of his work:

Letter by  
Unwavering Support for Art 
For years, coverage of art in Rwanda has largely been limited to entertainment, but of recent there is growing content on other forms of art. There is a growing interest by local media in art. That is why Kigali Today Ltd took up Ubumuntu Arts Festival in 2015 and we are continuing as a partner in 2016. The media and the arts are both the result of creative minds and they both have a powerful influence on people’s life and mindsets. An uninformed society is very dangerous. Art dilutes complex things and the media sends that to audiences. 

When Kigali Today Ltd took up Ubumuntu Arts Festival in 2015, we got a lot of new audience. Readers saw us from a whole new prism! Through past years, media thought politics is what sells, now you can find lots of specialized press. Soon we will see papers focusing solely on the arts. There is a need for collaboration between the media and the arts, especially if all parties are meant to positively shape and transform the society. At Kigali Today, our commitment and support is unquestionable.
Ubumuntu would not be possible without the help of our wonderful partners and sponsors. Many thanks to:
Don't miss out on four days full of art and dialogue

From the 14th to 17th of July we welcome you from 2pm to the Kigali Memorial Center to visit our engaging workshops and see the rich variety of international performances starting from 6pm.
Day 1: Children        
Opening Act "Dry your tears, Africa" by John Williams (Children's Choir), Rwanda
Friendship, Rwanda/USA    
Safe.Umudendezo.Amani, Rwanda/Belgium
O'dabo, South Africa/UK
Ma Petite Colline, Rwanda
Africa's Hope, Rwanda

Day 2: Women        
Movement for Humanity, UK/ Netherlands/ Rwanda    
Voices in Sync (Monologues from Syria and Burundi), Syria/Burundi/Belgium/Rwanda   
Tomorrow is Another Country, Sri Lanka    
Afro Man Spice, Uganda    
Mother to Mother, South Africa  
Day 3         
To Be or Not to Be, Rwanda/Switzerland
Face Off, Rwanda/DRC    
Go Forth, USA    
The Tears of a Man Flow in His Belly, Gabon    
Those You Pass on the Street, Northern Ireland
Body Revolution, Iraq/Belgium    

Day 4        
A New Dictionary, Uganda/ Sudan 
Solidarity, DRC/Ireland/Germany    
The Room of Lost Names, Kenya
Waiting for Train, Kosovo    
See You Yesterday, Cambodia     

For more details, you can check our website:

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