Rwandan Drums and Ice Cream in Harlem


Our own John Moore reports in from last night’s event at the MIST Theatre in Harlem, New York.

Immense congratulations are in order for a number of remarkable people that came together in Harlem last night to celebrate a few unique projects in Rwanda.

My Image Studios (MIST Harlem) hosted a special screening of scenes from Sweet Dreams, the newly released documentary film by sibling filmmakers Lisa and Rob Fruchtman. MIST is a new venue not even yet open to the public that will integrate performing arts space, film theaters, restaurants, and serve as a hub for pan African and Latino cultural exchange in the heart of Harlem.

Sweet Dreams documents the story of Ingoma Nshya, Rwanda’s first Hutu and Tutsi female drumming troupe, which also founded Inzozi Nziza, the only locally owned ice cream shop in Rwanda.

Founders of the award-winning Brooklyn based, organic ice cream business, Blue Marble Ice Cream, Alexis Miesen and Jennie Dundas played a major role in Inzoz Nziz. The duo made numerous trips to Rwanda to train, prepare and mentor the women on how to run a business.

The film really does an amazing job of setting the stage for the viewer to fully appreciate the magnitude of what these women have accomplished. Somehow this group of women have achieved all of their dreams despite the tragic history of genocide that plagues Rwanda.

The film is incredibly moving and powerful, but the drumming of the three women from Ingoma Nshya was more powerful still. The joy and purity of the music shared with the audience was extraordinary. They were followed by New York City-based all femaile drummers Akalande, and when the groups jammed together at the end of the show it brought the house down.

The event was also the venue for the public’s first glimpse at a wonderful new coffee project, Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda ( Grace engaged two incredibly accomplished coffee professionals, Tom and Patty Mitchell, to help bring life to her vision and this new brand. We were all fortunate to taste some delicious coffees from Rwanda at the end of the evening.

Complimentary samples of Blue Marble Ice Cream would have been served but the ice cream warehouse had no power thanks to Hurricane Sandy. The coffee had to be brewed off-site because the space is not yet completely finished. Having been in Kigali airport when the entire place went dark and power was lost, it all seemed perfectly appropriate and all the more authentic. Despite the challenges, a remarkable experience was enjoyed by all.