Umuganura day is a big celebration in Rwanda and is celebrated on the first Friday in August every year. This year, it falls on August 2. It is a public holiday in Rwanda and ushers in so many enjoyable activities in which the whole of Rwanda takes part. It is also known as Thanksgiving Day or National Harvest Day as it celebrates the beginning of the harvest season. Umuganura directly translates to “first-fruits festival.” The festival is celebrated for a week leading to Umuganura day. On the day, artists’ unions and federation members of the Rwanda Arts Council present wonderful art performances which are always a sight to behold.
History of Umuganura Day
Umuganura celebrates Rwanda’s cultural heritage as well as its accomplishments in different sectors of its economy. In Rwandan culture, families do not eat the fruits of the new harvest before having their elders taste them. The day is tied with giving thanks to their ancestors and God for all good things. Although the celebration is called a harvest festival, it is celebrated before harvest.
A good harvest is very important in Rwanda as 80% of laborers employed in agricultural activities constitute about 40% of the Gross Domestic Product (G.D.P.). Rwanda’s most important exports are tea and coffee and they make up about 80% of Rwanda’s agricultural exports.
Rwanda has a long history and was colonized by two nations. Germany invaded and colonized Rwanda in 1899 as part of German East Africa and then Belgium invaded in 1916 during World War I. These drawn-out wars and struggles put a halt to Umuganura and so it wasn’t celebrated for years. Years went by and Rwanda finally gained its independence in July 1962. Even after then, a lot of violence was seen in Rwanda but the country slowly got back on its feet.
Despite its long history, Umuganura only became a public holiday in 2011. The celebration usually happens first in individual families before the community then comes together for a wider celebration. Umuganura also presents an opportunity to celebrate yearly achievements from the sectors that contribute to the development of the country.
Umuganura Day timeline
Germany invades and colonizes Rwanda.
Rwanda is invaded by Belgium and colonized, defeating the Germans.
Rwanda gains its independence from colonial powers.
Umuganura becomes a public holiday.
Umuganura Day FAQs
What are Rwanda's biggest problems?
Extreme demographic pressure, shortage of arable land, and inaccessibility to the Indian Ocean.
Is Rwanda rich or poor?
Rwanda is a poor country as almost 90% of the population live on less than $2 per day and about 50% live on less than $1 per day.
What is the warmest month in Rwanda?
September is the warmest month in Rwanda.
Umuganura Day Activities
Celebrate the day by visiting Rwanda. It’ll be a wonderful experience to watch culture and art on display.
Spread awareness of the day. A social media post or simply telling a friend about it goes a long way.
Buy an agricultural product from Rwanda
Support Rwanda’s economy by buying agricultural products from Rwanda. This not just appreciates their efforts but boosts the economy as well.
5 Fascinating Facts About Rwanda
A land of hills
Rwanda is known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills.”
A birdwatcher’s paradise
Rwanda is home to seven of the 23 bird species there are in the world.
No plastic bags
The country doesn’t allow plastic bags, only paper bags and biodegradable bags are allowed.
The official language
Although Rwandans speak English and French, the official language of Rwanda is Kinyarwanda.
Women in parliament
The Rwandan parliament supports women in politics so much that they make up about 64% of the parliament.
Why We Love Umuganura Day
It promotes tourism
Umuganura Day promotes tourism. The day attracts foreigners to visit Rwanda to take part in the festivities.
It supports agriculture
As agriculture is a major part of the Rwandan economy, it is an opportunity for foreigners to support the growth of the economy. Umuganura encourages more people to take up agriculture.
It brings people together
Umuganura day unites not just families, but communities. It is a very good way to build unity amongst people.
Umuganura Day dates