Our heritage is an invaluable treasure

Editor, Reference is made to the letter, “Heritage and development can easily coexist” (The New Times, March 31). Apart from raising revenue to increase our gross domestic product (GDP), how does preservation of our heritage become more beneficial to us all?
Traditional cows (Inyambo) at the King’s Palace museum in Nyanza. (John Mbanda)
Traditional cows (Inyambo) at the King’s Palace museum in Nyanza. (John Mbanda)

Editor,

Reference is made to the letter, “Heritage and development can easily coexist” (The New Times, March 31).

Apart from raising revenue to increase our gross domestic product (GDP), how does preservation of our heritage become more beneficial to us all?

Yes, I agree, all those heritage sites are our collective property and, in addition to financial benefits we may eventually amass from tourists just seeing and watching them, we can also learn a little of our history from it. And truly, aware of it or not, this historical knowledge about our past is somehow indispensable for our collective and individual psychological sanity.

But apart from being a source of revenue and educational tools on our history, can’t those old sites and artifacts be put to additional uses? Like using them to reclaim our minds. Now that the land has been liberated, the next liberation struggle to undertake and absolutely win, says our President, is that of our individual minds and our collective mind as Rwandans.

One among many ways to liberate our minds, the President added, is to give dignity (Agaciro) to ourselves. And for us Rwandans and Africans in general what really belongs to us, in addition to our body structure, is all those archaic sites and artifacts... the rest, from the plastic comb we use now to do our hair on top, down to our toes clad into foreign made shoes, has just been, and still is entirely borrowed!

And yet we have all those ancient own artifacts, arbitrarily condemned without due and thorough trial, that we could either directly (re)use, or else draw inspiration from and manufacture ones more adapted to our actual times and needs.

I guess this way, a total Agaciro will be bestowed back to those sites, ways, and artifacts, and indirectly to us all, much better than just staging them/us for tourists’ consumption and as historical curios for our offspring.

Francois-Xavier Nziyonsenga

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