On July 18th, 2018, Hope Azeda was announced among five other fellows of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, as laureate of the 2018, John P. McNulty Prize. The Africa Leadership Initiative of which Hope is a fellow, is part of the broader Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Every year, theJohn P. McNulty Foundation, in partnership with the Aspen Institute, honors laureates from within AGLN with the prestigious John P. McNulty Prize. Each Laureate receives $25,000 to further his or her venture, and an international jury, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, international statesman Olara Otunnu, and development expert Brizio Biondi-Morrawill select the winner, whose venture will receive $100,000, and be recognized in November in New York City.
The Laureates are announced at the annual Resnick Aspen Action Forum, which convenes all fellows from the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Individuals who are selected as laureates, are carefully chosen for the impeccable ways in which they are using their various expertise and initiatives to drive meaningful change across the world.
For the 2018 Prize, Hope Azeda was announced as one of the four McNulty Prize laureates, in recognition of the phenomenal peace-building work she continues to accomplish through Ubumuntu Arts Festival. Hope also becomes thefirst East African, within the Aspen Global Leadership Network, to be announced as a Laureate for the Prize.
Hope was born in the western part of Uganda when her parents fled as a result of increasing ethnic tensions in Rwanda in the late 1950’s. However many of Hope’s relatives that remained in Rwanda were killed during the 1994 genocide. The pain and trauma her people endured during this period became a driving force for Hope, as she attempted to facilitate healing and reconciliation through creative arts.
To drive this, Hope founded and became the Artistic Director of a leading theatre company in Rwanda, the Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company.
In recognition of her impactful leadership in Arts, in 2013, Hope Azeda was inducted as a fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative, Mawimbi Class, where she presented the idea of the Ubumuntu Arts Festivalas her leadership project.
The word ‘Ubumuntu’ is a Kinyarwanda word that directly translates to mean, ‘humanity’. The festival’s main focus is to gather people from all around the world, regardless of their ethnicity, or background to use the creative arts to express their common humanity. To commemorate this, the festival’s slogan is: “I am because you are, you are because I am: we are human together”.
The first Ubumuntu Arts Festival was in 2015, and it has been happening annually since then. It marks the end of the 100 days of Kwibuka- remembering the 1 million people killed in the 100 days of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. It serves as an opportunity for artists from around the world to raise awareness of international stories of the trauma of conflict, reconciliation and most importantly, their common humanity.
“Born and raised as a refugee, my mother constantly reminded us that we are brought in this earth to plant seeds of love, comfort, and peace…its important for you and I to stand together, and be human together. I am because you are, you are because I am.”
-Hope Azeda, Action Forum 2018.