Kigali hosts ‘Diner en Blanc’ 2012 picnic
Imagine a scene with white-swathed tables, white balloons and attendees be decked in full white outfits having dinner unfold right before your eyes in the middle of our city-state.
No, it isn’t a flash mob for a romantic proposal to a special someone, and neither is it a scene from a new movie; it is ‘Dîner en Blanc’.
This widely known and acclaimed, glamorous pop-up picnic—a concept originally started by François Pasquier to reconnect with friends in Paris—was on August 11, 2012 held for the very first time in Africa, specifically in the Rwandan Capital of Kigali.
Probably the most high-profile fete of the year, the 24-year old annual event attracted over 375 guests all dining under the stars in the Vision 2020 Estates in Gaculiro. The extremely exclusive and elegant event was hosted by Illume Creative Studio, in partnership with Events Africa, ‘Dîner en Blanc’.
Guests for “Dîner en Blanc” were specifically invited by the organsers to attend this unique event, and they recommended their friends to be invited as well.
Participants were required to follow the ‘Dîner en Blanc’ rules in order to ensure a seamless and wonderful evening and were required to wear all white and bring their own table settings and table décor.
Those who made it were told to meet at one of six different pick-up points around the city and were taken by KBS buses to the main venue. The location remained a secret to ensure all guests arrived at the same time.
Once there, guests descended from the buses onto a field of all white where they were greeted with French music and welcoming hosts.
They then went to their selected tables, and immediately began decorating them and laying out their food which they brought themselves or purchased in advance from participating restaurants and food service providers Shokola Lite, Food and Stuff, Sakae, and Lalibela.
On the evening of the event, Clare Akamanzi, the Chief Excutive Officer of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), tweeted: “Dîner en Blanc” is in line with Rwanda’s tourism strategy of being a city of choice for international events, meetings and conferences.”
Indeed, according to Joan Mazimhaka of Illume Creative Studio: “One of Illume’s goals is to change what the world sees when you Google Rwanda and we hope this is one of the events that will accomplish that.”
“We also wanted to put together a fun event for Kigali’s residents, regional guests and tourists and also put Kigali on the map as an events destination,” said Mazimhaka.
The highlights of the evening included a live performance by Mike Kayihura, music by DJ Eric Soul, prizes for best table and best dressed (sponsored by Serena Hotels, Canal Plus and RDB), dancing, and the opportunity for participants to make new friends broadcast live online by Radio 10.
The event not only entertained the guests present, but members of the Diaspora were also able to tune in live to the festivities.
In addition to Tele10, other major sponsors and partners included KK Security, Positive Productions, SECAM, EABL, and Skol.
The organisers thank the Rwandan National Police, the Kigali City Council, and the Gaculiro Vision 2020 Midugudu for their support.
Launched with just a handful of friends more than 20 years ago, Paris’ “Dîner en Blanc®” brings together nearly 15,000 people each year in some of the most prestigious locations throughout the French capital.
Now coordinated by Aymeric Pasquier and Sandy Safi, the ‘Dîner en Blanc’ events are hosted in over a dozen cities around the world. This year, Kigali was the first city in Africa to host the event.
By Linda Mbabazi and Agencies
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