istrict Championship 2013!

Sunday was an extraordinary day at Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village. Hundreds of guests gathered from across the region to participate in the annual Rwamagana District competition in the areas of traditional dance, karate, singing and spoken word. Students from five schools competed. Spectators were clothed in their school uniforms, while participants proudly donned colorful, carefully pressed, and deliberately composed costumes.

Agahozo-Shalom staff and students were up with the sunrise preparing for the day’s festivities. Our dining hall was uniquely transformed. Tables were turned on their sides to create makeshift walls, a curtain was drawn atop the legs of two tables standing on their edge to create a stage area, and every chair that could be found was assembled in neat rows from one end of the massive room to the other. A pending electricity outage threatened the music and spoken word competitions, and as a result, the karate competition kicked off the day. 

The girls’ competition was first, drawing large numbers of bystanders. Our very own Agahozo-Shalom Enrichment Year (1st year) student, Cynthia, gave an incredible performance and succeeded in earning herself second place in the district!

While the karate competition continued, the spoken word competition began. One by one, students from the five schools represented stood at the front of the room before a panel of judges to deliver their poetry. Presentations varied from emotionally charged appeals to rhythmic verbal dances. A small, elementary school aged girl stole the show with her beautiful poem about overcoming adversity and our own Agahozo-Shalom Enrichment Year student, Miriam, earned herself fourth place. 

As the day continued with the Traditional Dance competition, all in attendance eagerly gathered to the stage for this much-anticipated part of the day. Agahozo-Shalom performed first and presented an elaborate display, integrating traditional instruments, Rwandan baskets, ankle bells, hunter showmanship, and even a makeshift boat and cow. Isheja, our traditional dance group, presented a truly amazing and creative performance that was wildly received with enthusiastic applause as their performance came to an end. 

They were followed by four equally beautiful performances from the competing schools. And, just when we thought the lack of electricity would make the music performances impossible, the power returned and the audience’s patience was rewarded with incredible music from throughout the district. 

As the day came to a close it was time to announce the winners. The judges first thanked all participants for their efforts and for a truly amazing day. In karate, Agahozo-Shalom boys earned both first and second place in fighting and form! In addition, the ASYV traditional dance troupe, Isheja earned first place, making them the official 2013 District Champions in Traditional Dance! And, with only a mere .03 points separating their final scores, the judges granted our homegrown music groups, The Braves and Amahoro Group, both first and second place in the District Music Competition! .

Submitted by year-long volunteer Shira Liff-Grieff