Rwandan Arts Center doesn’t really fall under the category of Pacific travels… but when your heart is touched you can´t wait to share your discovery with others. I travel extensively throughout the year and I don’t want to wait for the special moment to come, the moment for Africa or Rwanda to fit in my blogging schedule . Usually that moment just never comes – in most cases it is ‘now or never’ when you decide to share your feelings with others. Otherwise it’s lost forever.
It wasn’t my first time to Rwanda. I have visited the country before couple of years ago and back then my only memories consisted of Kigali Memorial Centre – a touching, though-provoking must-see place for any visitor coming to Rwanda. It is a site devoted to the history of genocide which happened in 1994. The memorial place is built where over 250,000 victims were buried. The story is truly terrifying and heart-breaking. My visit was very emotional and very educational at the same time. After such an overwhelming experience I was somehow relieved to experience a brighter side of life and human nature during my last trip to Rwanda.
Inema Arts Center is a beautiful initiative among Rwandan creative artists. Inema means a blessing, a gift, a talent or trustworthy in Swahili. It is also an abbreviation of two brothers first names (self-thought painters, co-funders of the centre): Innocent Nkurunziza and Emmanuel Nkuranga. The Art Center was opened in 2012 and it~s higly successful so far. It has an uplifting vision/mission: Passion for art, love for people, pride in Rwandan culture, sharing creativity, education, healing and cultural enlightment. The first encounter with Inema Arts Center is unforgettable because the building itself is very colorful, eye-catching and makes you scream to the taxi driver: stop! stop! to take few photos from outside. I felt a great energy the moment I stepped inside and your arrival doesn~t come unnoticed. Sam – one of the artists exhibiting in a gallery – welcomed me warmly and invited to explore every corner of a centre. He discribed the history and ideas behind the project. The initiative gathers painters, sculptors, dancers, interior designers of all generations. The result of their work is really pleasant to watch and the ideas seem very fresh and creative. The prices of art works are high but you are not pushed to buy anything, you can enjoy wandering around. It is a breath of fresh air to escape from needy, rude sellers, so common in Africa. On their website you can find the newest events and the schedule for many activities. I wish them all the best as I see how much heart and effort they put to promote and cultivate creative expression among the community. Their good vibe spreads all over Kigali and Internet too. excellent notes on tripadvisor are the best evidence of how much people love the project and how important it is to have a place like that on a local art scene.
Rwanda is a small country with a horrifying, bloody history but it recovers in an impressive way fighting for better future against poverty and ethnic tension. Inema Arts Center proves that the change is possible and highly appreciated. Kigali is also one of the cleanest places I~ve ever been to in Africa. The last Saturday of the month, is a compulsory cleaning day that everyone takes part in, including the President. I remember during one of my layovers I was in a bus, together with the whole set of airline crew, coming back from the hotel to the airport, to operate the flight back from Kigali. We were stopped so many times by the police. They investigated us meticulously why we were traveling instead of cleaning the city. When I came back home I did research about the whole idea and I came across a beautiful quote by Paul Kagame, Rwandan President:
“Keeping our streets clean, keeping our homesteads clean, ourselves clean, is not something we need to go out looking for resources. It is something we have within ourselves, why not start from that? It becomes a culture, it becomes a way of life.”
How more motivational can it be? Thank you Rwanda for a beautiful example and an inspirational lesson on a team work and how to make each citizen responsible for the beauty of its own country. Very impressive.