When Jacques Nkinzingabo applied to attend Rwanda Unseen, a photo exhibition in Ravensburg, Germany, in September, he had no idea that he would end up touring four countries.
The freelance documentary photographer is currently in Lagos, Nigeria, on the final leg of his four-nation tour that also saw him visit Belgium and France.
“While working on my visa to Germany, I got a call from the Goethe Institut in South Africa, inviting me for the Lagos Photo Festival in Nigeria to interact with other young photographers from different African countries,” he explained.
At “Rwanda Unseen”, Nkinzingabo showcased the different facets of Rwandan life as seen through his lenses.
Rwanda Unseen was a two-week exhibition but he attended only ten days of it and moved on to Paris, France for another exhibition.
In Germany, he showcased his own pictures alongside pictures of street children and other youths he trains under the Kwanda Art Foundation, which he founded earlier this year.
“Very many people were actually more interested in the work of the children than mine. They wondered how street kids can take very good pictures,” he explained.
“One of my missions was just to showcase what people have never seen about Rwanda because when you go to Germany, what they know and hear about Africa is wars, protests....hunger and disease, and as for Rwanda what they know is just the Genocide (against the Tutsi).”
In France, Nkinzingabo took part in an exhibition dubbed A Place I Belong To.
“It was photos I took from Rwanda, Congo, Burundi, Uganda and Mali, so I was talking about Africa as a place I belong to,” he said, before adding “I was talking about what young people in Africa think about cultural diversity, what they understand about their own culture and political history.”
From France, Nkinzingabo headed to Brussels in Belgium, not for an exhibition but to interact with members of the Rwandan community resident there.
“I was first in Brussels then I went to Antwerp just to try and make contact with Rwandans and Burundians there because there’s an organisation called Kuumba which is inviting me next year for an exhibition in Brussels. Kuumba is an association of Belgians who work with Congolese people and one of their goals is to promote African culture in Europe through the arts in general. They invite African artists who go there and spend a week or so sharing their experiences and participating in workshops,” he said.
From Belgium, he travelled to Munich in Germany to meet a business partner before returning to Africa for the last leg of his tour – Nigeria.
In Nigeria, Nkinzingabo attended a project called Learning Centers of Photography in Africa, organised by the German Cultural Centre, Goethe Institut.
The project invites different institutions or learning centres of photography from different countries and they meet in one country at a festival.
He also attended the Lagos Photo Festival that opened on Saturday, October 21, where he interacted with photographers from across the continent and also shared his own experiences.
“I spoke at three different places talking to students and young photographers just to inspire them and explain to them a little bit about my country,” he said.
Earlier this year, the 22-year-old self-taught photographer held a successful exhibition themed, The Journey, in Kigali that focused on the urban life.