Karongi residents have been called upon to regularly visit the environment museum, a scientific hub as well as an environmental show in the district.
Officials at Karongi Environment Museum say there is need for mindset change since many locals think that visiting museums is a preserve of foreigners.
Launched in August this year, Karongi Environment Museum showcases various samples of elements comprising global and Rwandan environment.
Inside the museum
A visit start with the expansive display of solar panels and other sources of energy and how they have evolved in Rwanda, like methane gas in the nearby Lake Kivu and the process through which electricity is generated from the rare gas.
Other sources of energy displayed include coal and charcoal.
Then there is a section where samples from all mineral resources available in Rwanda are showcased, from ordinary cobblestones to gold.
Archaeological objects like chipped stone dating 2000 years and human fossils from many years ago are some of the other objects the museum has on display.
Another block contains dead but well conserved animals which were relocated from Richard Kandt museum in Kigali.
“They have been embalmed as a way to conserve them for a long time. It’s a display of some animals available in Rwanda,” said Annet Nyabakazi, a guide in environment museum in Karongi.
A tiger, snakes, various species of birds and a big crocodile are some of the animals on display.
“This crocodile was killed in 2012 after mauling many people,” Nyabakazi said, pointing to a black pair of old shoes, which she said were extracted from the reptile and belong to one of its human victims.
The museum also has on display many traditional plants that were for generations used as herbal medicine in ancient Rwanda.
She said around 80 per cent of their visitors are foreigners, the big number mostly researchers, while very few residents around have picked interest in visiting the facility.
They only get people when they organise Open Days where they invite locals to tour the facility for free. “But even on such days, you don’t see many people as one would expect.”
Josephine Uzamutuma, a resident of Bwishyura sector in Karongi, said she had never visited the museum because she assumes the entrance fees are high.
She was found at the museum last week when she brought her child to the children’s library (also at the museum), for a reading campaign for children.
“We missed a lot, we didn’t know what was inside. We thought it’s reserved for foreigners. I’m going to prepare a group visit for my students,” she said, adding that the prices were not as high as she thought.
André Ndabaga, the Museum Manager, said it’s surprising that this local infrastructure benefits more foreigners and people from other parts of the country and not the people around.
For foreigners, entrance fee is Rwf6,000 and Frw5,000 if they work in Rwanda, while nationals are required to pay Rwf1500 (adults). Children and students from primary up to masters level pay Rwf700.
When children or students come in a group, they pay Rwf500 each.
Ndabaga said that more efforts were needed to change people’s mindset towards visiting local tourist sites.
He added that some opinion leaders like teachers, community health workers and local leaders should take the lead in visiting museums and other cultural sites.