Thousands of Rwandans on Sunday celebrated the National Harvest Day commonly known as Umuganura with a focus on encouraging Rwandans to work harder to eradicate poverty and hunger.
The annual event is celebrated beginning August 4th but for this year it was extended over the weekend not to coincide with other major events like the Presidential elections.
Umuganura is a traditional feast of the first harvest that was widely observed in ancient Rwanda.
The harvest day is the first-fruit festival and one of Rwanda’s ancient royal rituals.
The celebrations of Umuganura were held in Nyanza District, Southern Province and attracted hundreds of people including Rwandan government officials and the private sector and citizens.
This year’s event was observed under the theme: "Umuganura, a foundation of unity and self-reliance."
Speaking at the celebrations, Julienne Uwacu, Rwanda’s minister of sports and culture, said the event has evolved to become a national festival to celebrate the country’s achievements in social and economic development.
"This day gives Rwandans an opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved and focus on what needs to be done to find a lasting solution towards addressing malnutrition, poverty, and hunger in the country," she added.
According to 2014 Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV) conducted by the National Institute of Statistics, poverty in Rwanda reduced from 60 per cent in 2000 to 39 per cent in 2014.
Rwanda targets to reduce poverty to 20 per cent and extreme poverty to zero per cent from the current 16 per cent by 2020, according to the ministry of finance and economic planning.
This year’s Umuganura celebration also was combined with President Paul Kagame’s’ landslide victory during the August 4th Presidential elections where most Rwandan voted for Kagame for another third term in office.
Minister Uwacu also noted that the celebration is an advantage this year because it has occurred when Rwandans are jubilating President Kagame’s victory during the elections.