Deep in Kayciru sector sits a creative art gallery where artists’ paintings neatly hang on walls staring at art lovers who come in.
Ivuka Art Gallery founded by Collin Sekajugo in 2007, depicts art and creativity right from the main entrance with paintings and abstract impressions.
While in high school in Kenya, Sekajugo was exposed to street art exhibited in the streets of Nairobi, which made him question all he had previously wanted to be, it is then that he realised that the only thing he wanted to be was an artist.
The art took him to many countries around the world, amongst them Nigeria, South Africa, Belgium, Germany, United States and Japan exhibiting his paintings and giving talks to anyone who cared to listen.
In 2001, he returned to visit his family but he didn’t find inspirational art. He says: “That is when it hit me that it would be important to put up a creative hub where young artists would express what was important to them through art through the transition from a dark past,” Sekajugo narrates.
“By the time I left for South Africa, I had resolved to get back and put up a centre,” Sekajugo says.
True to his word, he returned in 2007 with some savings he had accumulated through his various engagements, he put up Ivuka art centre.
During the centre’s inception in 2007, Sekajugo had a goal to not only nurture creative young people but also give them a platform and a chance to market their art and creations. “Most of them realised their dreams and began to make a living from art. Some of them have even gone ahead to establish their own spaces.”
During the awareness raising period, the 32-year-old artist drove to the villages and communities in search of talented artists, “but nowadays more people get here on their own,” Sekajugo says.
Ivuka which means Birth in Kinyarwanda has made it possible for previously unknown artists to exhibit their work.
Moses Izabiriza, a 21-year-old artist, says he took interest in art 10 years ago, but Ivuka gave him an opportunity he wouldn’t find elsewhere. “I had a chance to watch artists work and later on learnt from them. Ivuka has given me a chance to develop my art,” Izabiriza says.
Ivuka Arts Centre is now running a women’s programme, RwaGirl, which seeks to involve women artists on a more significant level. “For so many years, women have been excluded and not well involved in arts, especially here in Rwanda. We are using the scarce resources we have to encourage more women to participate in arts.”
Sekajugo figures that art, especially from Africa, has a bright future. “Africa is coming under the spotlight on world stage, for generations our art has been underrated. But the world is realising that there is a lot of talent and beauty in African art, everyone is attracted to the art now.”
The self taught artist who draws inspiration from travelling says that in future, Ivuka is planning to establish its own place since the current space is rented.
“We want to put up our own space and inspire more artists,” concludes Sekajugo.