It’s not always sibling rivalry; some create enterprises together and try to make a difference with their skills. Such is the story of the four co-founders of Isubyo House of Art located in Kiyovu; Jules Eric Dushimimana, Olivier Mbarushimana, Magnifique Uwurukundo, and Janvier Tuyishimire. The first three are siblings whilst the fourth is a close friend who became family. Isubyo, a word in Kinyarwanda, is a powerful section of the tree located in the link between the branch and the tree attached to it. “For our own benefit and that of anyone who approaches us, we chose that name as our objective to be strong together as Isubyo,” says Mbarushimana, the chairperson of the art gallery. They all agree that the idea of establishing the art gallery came after noticing that they all had unique talents. They affirm that it was made possible with the support of other relatives and friends, and then started exhibiting their various handicrafts. Outside the art centre “Nothing goes to waste because we create the entire wood value chain here. Pyrography (burning or scorching designs on wood with hot instruments), string art (arranging coloured thread strung between points to form different designs), painting (artwork created with colours on a surface such as paper), and relief art (where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background),” Mbarushimana says. Isubyo House of Art was initiated in 2014 but was officially unveiled in 2019. “We split the task among ourselves based on our own strengths, and we began teaching our younger siblings the basics. We later launched a programme that enables TVET students to do internships here and learn from one another,” he says. “Although Covid-19 derailed many of our goals, we continue to profit from the numerous products available here, including interior design, custom-designed t-shirts, other decorations, shoes, and a variety of other Made in Rwanda products. We teamed up with KASO, a youth-led organisation dedicated to empowering other young people. However, any other potential investor, partner, or creative person who wants to collaborate with us is welcome,” he adds. Unique lighting chandelier made from wood at the centre. “With the return to normalcy in Rwanda, we’ve also created new ways to connect with our people through various activities. We have a live band that performs for tourists and other clients who want to learn about Rwandan music. There are movie nights where we display films about Africa’s history as well as other popular films. ‘Paint with me’ sessions are also available, where people may learn to sketch while having a good time. Finally, there’s ‘Silent disco’, which involves people dancing to music while wearing headphones,” Mbarushimana says. The gallery has represented Rwanda in a number of exhibitions, including those held in Germany, the Netherlands, and other countries. “We attended the 2019 JamaFest in Tanzania, and I recall being the only ones in East Africa with pyrography artwork. We were praised for it, and we received an award as a result. In 2018, we also visited the International Trading Fair, where we won the prize for ‘Best Creative Industry,” Mbarushimana says. When asked if they believe they have reached their peak, Mbarushimana says they haven’t yet gotten to where they want to be. “We don’t currently have the best materials available to enable us to be at the top in this business, but we’re not giving up. We are increasing our brand recognition through various channels, particularly social media platforms, as the largest hurdle has been Covid-19.” “We are grateful and request the government to continue providing opportunities for young people to demonstrate their potential. We urge Rwandans to continue supporting and appreciating their own country’s products made by Rwandans,” Mbarushimana remarks. You can check out their work on Instagram @isubyoart250 and Twitter @isubyoart.