This weekend’s inauguration of the Museum of Rwandan Ancient History, in Nyanza, Southern Province, did not go down with a bang as it should have. It was possibly an oversight by our media fraternity (for not giving it due attention), but they missed a chance of a lifetime to be part of an important chapter in this country– bringing back our rich heritage from oblivion.
Any civilisation worth its name clings dearly to its past, regaling in the feats of forebearers, admiring their tenacity in the absence of today’s technology.
Our today’s dotcom generation might be forgiven for thinking that communication technology began on their watch; mobile phones and satellite TV.
They will find it hard to believe that the sounds of drums carried different meanings in those days: one sound could mean bad news, another announce a general mobilisation of all able bodied men to go and defend the countries borders from external aggression, other sounds still could herald a happy occurrence; a birth, a wedding, etc.
But how are we to prove to this generation that the only sounds one can dance to is not necessarily some imported Hip-hop blaring from their ipods and mp3s?
The answer lies in giving our cultural heritage a new breath of life. Let the new generation know that they come from capable stock. The only way to do so is revisiting the past through the lenses of our heritage.
Museums should not be hunting grounds of tourists and academic researchers only. They should be made easily accessible for every Rwandan who feels in need of an uplift in self esteem and feeling of belonging.
After all, “Old wine tastes better”, even if it is stocked in new bottles.