The Birthday post (and other overdue explanations)

Dear friends,

First we would like to apologize for the silence, May was, excuse our language, one hell of a month!  But we are back now, and as you may know, we’re a little bit older!

Yes, Ishyo turned 5 on May 5th and yes, it was a memorable celebration!  Why was it memorable you may ask? To quickly remind you the context, Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) is selling some of its assets on public auctioning and our building/premises happen to be part of the lot so we were given until May 10th to vacate the premises. It was with that threat that we prepared our fifth birthday party, thus determining the theme:  a “moving” party!  We deliberately played on the double entendre of the word: we will be moving from a location we had occupied and cherished for over 4 years and it deeply moved us to depart from a space that holds so many memories and promises that were left unfulfilled. It was truly heartbreaking for us to think about the artists, cultural activists, art lovers and communities we would have to leave behind, with no indication of when we would meet again.

So after we had exhausted all possibilities of obtaining an extension, we finally informed all our friends online on May 2nd. The reaction to our announcement was phenomenal: artists, art lovers and concerned citizens took over Twitter and Facebook to vehemently protest either through petitions (link), open declarations, poems or tweets addressed to several decision-makers. We were overwhelmed by the support and the love that was shown to Ishyo Arts Centre as the refuge of many seeking a platform for creative expressions and exchanges. Little did we know that at the end of the day, we would receive a letter from the RSSB allowing us to stay until end of September. The immediate threat of eviction was postponed, but it remains a threat nonetheless, so we decided to keep our “moving” theme.

The small victory of solidarity over bureaucracy put all organizers and participants in a state of euphoria. For several reasons, we had no other choice than limit the number of guests we would share this special day with: we could only invite those we had been in professional collaborations with for the past 5 years (artists, businesses, civil society organizations, cooperation agencies, NGOs and government institutions).

We threw our work outfits on and put on our brightest smiles to welcome our guests that evening, despite the excessive amount of moving boxes that filled the premises. We took this night as an occasion to play our anthem, written and sang by internationally-acclaimed artist from Reunion Island Davy Sicard. We then proceeded to performances (dance, comedy, music and spoken word) and speeches (from the founding ladies of Ishyo asbl) that truly moved each and every person in the audience. And because a party ain’t a party without cake, our board and staff members got together to blow the 5 candles that lit faces so full of hope and determination that anyone could feel that whether in our current location or elsewhere, Ishyo Arts Centre will definitely blow many, many, many more candles.


Rwanda Celebrates ‘World Intellectual Property Day’ 2012

Rwanda celebrated the international Intellectual Property Day on the 24th and 25th of May 2012. The Ministry of trade and commerce (MINICOM) invited the Ministry of Sports and Culture along with Ishyo Arts Centre to collaborate in setting up this 3rd edition under the theme of “The importance, process and challenges of protection of Rwanda’s National Heritage”.

This year, MINICOM decided to organize a 2 days’ workshop with an internationally renowned expert Mr. Getachew Mengistie Alemu of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) who initiated the Ethiopia’s Fine Coffee Trademarking and Licensing and was head of the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office.  This workshop brought together several stakeholders of Intellectual Property rights in Rwanda and took place in Kigali and in Huye. These stakeholders were from MINICOM, the MINISPOC, the INMR (Institute of National Museums of Rwanda), Ishyo Arts Centre, the IRST, and many more.

The first part of the workshop took place at the Kigali Serena Hotel on the 24th and was mostly about Mr Getachew defining the basic principles and presenting the case study of how Ethiopia further benefited from its coffee exports by globally enforcing its Intellectual Property rights. In between presentations, the Comedy Knights took over the stage with humorous illustrations of the respect, or lack thereof, of Intellectual Property rights in our day-to-day realities. In the afternoon several institutions i.e. the INMR, Ishyo Arts Centre, the IRST and MINICOM presented their field of work including the areas where IP could apply, and also the type of challenges they faced because the law n° 31/2009 of 26/10/2009 on the protection of intellectual property was barely enforced. After the presentations, the audience got to ask questions to all panelists before Mr Getachew got to close the workshops by first recognizing the incredible richness of Rwandan products, culture and traditions and their potential added value to our economic and cultural prosperity should IP rights be respected. Ikobe Music Group then officially started the networking cocktail with the beautiful sound it creates and strives to protect.

(picture courtesy of – From Left to Right: Hon. Minister F. KANIMBA, Mr G. MENGISTIE ALEMU, Expert from ARIPO and Dr J. VUNINGOMA of the Rwanda Academy of Language and Culture)

The second part of the workshop took place at the Ethnographic Museum in Huye were participants were welcomed by the highly creative museum troop that left all of them in awe. Next were two very important presentations from Mr Getachew and Mr Umuliisa, DG of the INMR that provided further clarifications on the status of Intellectual Property rights in Rwanda and also provided some lessons to be learned from the Ethiopian experience.

All in all, these two days left all participants hopeful that in a near future, our country, its communities and individuals will be able to reap what their imaginations, thoughts and heritage will have sown.

“(L)imitation” by Michael Sengazi (For Intellectual Property day)

Extract of Ishyo’s performance, directed by Carole Karemera for IP Day, May 26th, 2012


Ladies and gentleman, may i have your attention ?

May i have your attention please?

What i am going to say is important for artistic creation…

It is not from the bible but it is a revelation

The revelation is « imitation is limitation»

Imitation is limitation in the process of creation ;

I’d rather create than imitate…

It is hard to tolerate when people imitate or duplicate,

What took all your strength to make or create…

For a phone, for example, they take «samsung » and make it « samsong » ;

Or take some songs and make it one song ;

Ain’t that wrong ?

They say « no pain…no gain » ;

But they duplicate the pain and take away our gain ;

And leave us with a worthless fame, and a hidden shame ;

So who’s to blame ?

Imitation is limitation ;

So ladies and gentleman please may i have….forever…your attention ?


Un poème pour Ishyo Arts Centre, by Freddy Rugamba

Nous sommes sans mots devant vos témoignages de soutien, d’amitié et d’amour. Du fond du coeur, merci! La seule façon de faire avancer les arts et la culture dans notre pays et si nous continuons à y travailler, tous ensemble.

Voici un beau poème de Freddy Rugamba:


UN ENDROIT UNIQUE par Freddy Rugamba


Laissez-moi-vous parler de cet endroit,

Cet endroit qu’on m’a fait découvrir.

Un endroit unique en son genre

Qu’on aimerait tous voir s’épanouir.

Je vous parle d’un endroit spécial,

Un endroit ou vit l’art,

La musique, la danse,

La comédie, la poésie,

Ishyo est leur domicile.


Cet endroit est magique pour ceux qui le fréquentent.

Un endroit où chacun a le droit de s’exprimer,

Un endroit hors du commun

Ou on parle à haute voix

On exprime nos plus profondes pensées

A travers cet art qui nous unis.

La vie change quand on est en ce lieu

La vision des choses est différente en ce lieu.

Ne parlez pas de fermer cet endroit à nous, chez nous.


Ou allons nous nous exprimer ?

Ou allons nous pouvoir partager nos dons, nos talents ?

Le seule entreprise à avoir un produit, doit à ce que je sache

Etre encouragée non pas fermée.

Fermer Ishyo Arts Center est égal

A faire plusieurs pas en arrière,

Non pas en construction mais intellectuellement.

Reconnaissance est la seul chose qu’il mérite,

Non pas destruction ni fermeture.



Poètes prenez vos stylos,

Chanteurs, chanteuses prenez vos micros

Comédiens, comédiennes allez sur scène

Danseurs, danseuses prenez place,

On doit protéger notre maison,

Les gens doit savoir combien on y tient,

Montrons l’importance de ce lieu

La valeur qu’elle a pour nous les jeunes  de ce pays.

Battons nous, sinon on perdra notre chère maison.