BY GODFREY NTAGUNGIRA
The government through the ministry of culture and sports is demonstrating ways and means of managing the preservation of cultural heritage resources as one of the avenues to fuel development.
It featured presentations on recently analyzed data on the economic impact of cultural heritage and sustainable tourism.
This data provided up-to-date information on how tourism can assist in strengthening other segments of the economy beyond the service sectors.
The Cultural and Natural Heritage Protection and Development Project is designed to help the government to resolve some of the barriers that have been inhibiting tourism development and to enhance its capacity for developing a sustainable cultural tourism sector.
The ministry of Culture and Sports has worked on the protection of cultural heritage and the development of sustainable tourism for many years.
This is within the framework of placing the country’s legacy in its proper perspective.
These efforts include the repair, rehabilitation and restoration of historic and cultural sites, renovation of the National Archives while ensuring proper preservation for its priceless collections.
Conservation of Historical Sites
This project is very significant to the preservation of Rwanda’s proud history.
After the tragic events of the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994 there still remains a critical need to reclaim and restore the country’s cultural heritage.
The project will ensure that Rwandans are privileged to partake in the restoration and revival of its many heritage sites and cultural traditions.
It requires a collective responsibility to preserve and protect what is left.
The ministry is also working round the clock to establish legislation to govern the preservation of historical sites it is also carrying out studies how Rwandans can earn a living through cultural tourism.
The ministry also plans to rehabilitate and protect genocide memorial sites, and genocide cemeteries. In the same light the ministry is instituting measures for local maintenance mechanisms to ensure their sustainability.
Boosting and Preserving Music
A Fund for Rwanda music industry in the offing
The Fund which is still under study is scheduled to assist the line ministry in the implementation of initiatives that advance the preservation, promotion and management of cultural assets and enhance cultural heritage related activities.
It will also be used to implement self-standing music industry pilot projects which would focus on the appreciation of cultural values.
The ministry is carrying out a study on how to establish such a fund whereby money will be deposited in banks to stand as surety to allow the musicians access affordable loans without complicated conditions.
Copyrights law and related components
Parliament has adopted laws to entrench copyrights which is soon to be gazetted. Rwanda wants musicians to produce professional music whereby consumers respect copyrights. The ministry on the hand would wish to see local music meeting internation standards.
Another huge project in the pipeline is to establish a library and national archives.
The government is also keen to develop sports through the rehabilitation of Amahoro international stadium a project which is now operational.
It also plans to construct or rehabilitate regional sports stadia in Bugesera, Huye, Nyagatare, Ngoma, and Muhanga.
The ministry is also working hard to repatriate Rwandan texts and documents from former colonial masters.
It also seeks to strengthen social networks and cohesion among various groups. For example in Rwanda, the Twa ethnic groups are known for their pottery. This cultural heritage has enabled them to form associations and market their products.
Rejuvenating the crafts industry
The crafts industry, like other components of Rwanda’s cultural institutions has long thrived informally and at the domestic levels.
However the industry has shown particular promise in recent years as an export commodity. In June 2007 first Lady Jeanette Kagame called for more private investment in Rwandan handicrafts, specifically the uniquely Rwandan Agaseke basket for which is marketing Rwanda abroad.
Consequently many have earned a living from the crafts industry.
In partnership with women’s cooperatives in Rwanda, the local crafts industry has provided a global market place for Rwandan culture.
Agaseke and other weaved products have not only found market interest around the world, but have reinforced the life-supporting essence of the Rwandan culture, dating back to pre-colonial times.
Kinyarwanda language preservation
The government plans to establish a national academy of culture and language.
This centre is expected to play a crucial role in the preservation of Kinyarwanda as a national language. Currently Kinyarwanda is facing a serious threat of erosion as young people’s competence in the language decreases dramatically over time.
Kinyarwanda language preservation will also be undertaken through making it part of the curriculum.
‘As a country that speaks one language, it’s imperative that we preserve our mother tongue at any cost’, intimated the Sports and Culture Minister.
Habineza revealed that the ministry is seeking to draft legislation meant to entrench the establishment of what he termed as language and cultural academies whose core objective will be to preserve the country’s mother tongue (Kinyarwanda).
Within the EDPRS framework culture is viewed as a resource for economic and social development. When poor communities preserve and develop their cultural assets, they are also generating new economic opportunities.
It is possible for communities to generate income from cultural heritage. Cultural heritage tourism is a fast growing segment of the global tourism industry.