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Meet the 2012 Common Ground Awardees: Ingoma Nshya (“New Era”)

2012 October 19

“In a country full of pain and grief, I chose to bring life, and I chose to bring joy.” - Kiki Katese , founder

Rwandan Drummers Photo by Lex Fletcher

Photo by Lex Fletcher

The Hutu and Tutsi members of the group Ingoma Nshya have broken a cultural taboo in becoming Rwanda’s first and only female drumming troupe. Serving as role models for other women survivors, theirs is an inspirational story of women’s empowerment, the healing of the wounds of genocide, and of finding joy and hope.

Created in 2005 by Odile Gakire Katese, better known as Kiki, Ingoma Nshya includes women from both sides of Rwanda’s conflict—the orphans and widows of those murdered, and the wives and children of perpetrators. The group, now numbering over 100, has been a place where they could begin to live again—to build new relationships, to heal the wounds of the past and to create new futures for themselves. Ingoma Nshya personifies the idea that healing and reconciliation are possible, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Sweet Dreams, the newly released documentary film about their story, was shown at the United Nations to an audience of 400 people, and was featured in Maryland’s Silver Docs Film Festival. The film follows the remarkable story of these women as they emerge from the devastation of the genocide to create a new future for themselves as Rwanda’s first female drumming troupe, and as they open and run Rwanda’s first and only ice cream shop. The women staff the store and share equally in the business.

Bound together by loss and necessity, these inspirational women are creating a space where female Rwandan artists can be free to develop their creativity as they work together towards the goals of preserving traditional culture and building a livelihood that will benefit all Rwandans.


The Common Ground Awards will be presented at the Carnegie Institution for Science on November 8, 2012 at 8:00pm in Washington, DC. The Awards are presented annually by Search for Common Ground to honor outstanding accomplishments in conflict resolution, negotiation, community and peace building. Recipients have made significant contributions toward bridging divides between people, finding solutions to seemingly intractable problems, and providing inspiration and hope where often there was none. Past recipients of the Award include: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, former President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Muhammad Ali, Sesame Workshop, and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

“In a world where adversarial behavior is so prevalent, we honor people who build bridges and resolve conflict” said John Marks, President and Founder of Search for Common Ground.  “These are our heroes, and it feels wonderful to celebrate them.”

Other 2012 Common Ground Awardees

Charlayne Hunter-Gault

Respected TV, radio, and print journalist who integrated the University of Georgia as one of its first two African-American students; author of recently published “To The Mountaintop: My Journey Through the Civil rights Movement.”

The Interfaith Award:

Lord George Carey of Clifton, Former Archbishop of Canterbury; Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, Founder of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), and Imam of Masjid al-Farah in New York City; and Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interreligious Affairs, American Jewish Committee,

Peace Child International

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Peace Child International empowers young people to be the change they want to see in the world, by encouraging youth to become informed and then take action.

Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens

The late U.S. Ambassador to Libya and career Foreign Service Officer who spent his life steadfastly serving to bridge divides and cultivate understanding between the United States and the Middle East, for a life of transcendence over cultural differences.

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