The month of April saw one of Rwanda’s famous painters, Collin Sekajugo, Founder and Director of Ivuka Arts, speak at the University of Essex in England on the ‘Role of Arts in the Reconciliation and Reconstruction process of Rwanda’.
This comes after he represented Rwanda in South Africa at the ‘Art For Social Justice’ conference and a world artists exhibition dubbed ‘Dialogue Among Civilizations’ in March, 2010. The NEWTimes’ Gloria I. Anyango brings excerpts from his England experience.
Q: What was the invitation about?
I was invited by the University of Essex in England to speak on the ‘Role of Arts in the Reconciliation and Reconstruction process of Rwanda’. I spoke to a group of art students and their lectures and I was also involved in the art critic session organized to criticize the works of final year students and this focused on conceptual art.
Q: How is this related to Rwanda’s arts?
My presentation was based on the birth of Ivuka Arts Kigali, its objectives and goals. It reflected on what we do at Ivuka Arts and how it has positively impacted the lives of the people in the surrounding communities and elsewhere in Rwanda.
Q: How has Ivuka Arts impacted people’s lives?
Ivuka Arts as a center does not only nurture young upcoming artists and disadvantaged children, but is also a place that brings healing to hurting people, most of who are from very struggling backgrounds. We at Ivuka continue to invite and welcome all talented youth to come and express themselves through different mediums of art.
As a result, young people in the community unite and recognize their human values as individuals. This has also promoted peace amongst the youth who joined the center with different mentalities based on their ethnic differences. Today we are one big family and we don’t discriminate any artist or child based on their backgrounds.
Q: What lessons were learnt from your presentation?
Many people outside East Africa may have heard of Rwanda but the only thing they know is the Genocide against the Tutsi that befell the country in 1994. Even though the world has now recognized what happened to Rwanda in 1994, many people out there still know nothing about Rwanda.
During my various presentations about Rwanda around the world, I start by introducing Rwanda to people by talking about its geography, history, the beautiful culture before I speak about the Arts.
Q: What is the most common response from your audience?
Many people usually ask me: ‘Your country seems very interesting, I would love to visit one day, but I am scared, is it safe and secure?’ I always respond to this by saying that, Rwanda as a whole country is much safer than the streets of New York, London, Paris or Brussels, Toronto or Chicago, and that is in my own experience.
People need to know that Rwanda is not about war or trouble as some people seem to perceive. However, Rwanda has a lot of positive things to show the world and these include, the unique and rich culture, the Arts, the landscapes, et cetera.