By Germain Mucyo | Photos by Mark Mattos

Two recent performances of East African artists in Portland demonstrated the range of styles performing artists from the African continent add to the richness  of cultural life in Maine. At Merrill Auditorium, Tales of Bells and Drums featured traditional dancing and drumming by the Portland-based troupe Ikirenga cy’Intore.  Renowned Rwandan singer Clarisse Karasira headlined the concert. At AURA, Bruce Mélodie, who also is from Rwanda, performed his debut concert in the U.S., attracting a crowd of 1,000 people. During his two-hour performance, Mélodie delighted audiences with renditions of some of his most popular songs, including “When She Is Around” and “Fou de Toi.”

Speaking after Tales of Bells and Drums, Karasira, who now lives in Maine, said, “I believe these events are good for the community. … Similar gatherings can attract immigrant youth to know the culture [of their heritage] and to keep it.” Nadia Clarisse, also Rwandese and a dance teacher in Maine who works with immigrant youth, spoke of the importance of cultural events for members of the diaspora. “They [events] keep the community together, and reduce isolation. We have some young immigrants who are living alone here – they are taken care of when we have similar performances.”  

They [events] keep the community together, and reduce isolation.