Media, Eateries must promote art in Rwanda

As The New Times begins a long-needed campaign on customer service standards in Kigali, another striking absence from a sophisticated society can be heard and seen by the silence on the streets and the empty rooms never used as art galleries.

As The New Times begins a long-needed campaign on customer service standards in Kigali, another striking absence from a sophisticated society can be heard and seen by the silence on the streets and the empty rooms never used as art galleries.

No one wants to think of Rwanda as a dying country, for we all know it is very much alive.

Sadly, that is the image many get when visiting the country, and even when living in it, that though during the day it bustles and vibrates to economic rhythms, at the night falls, the city closes in on itself and falls ‘asleep’.

So too have the arts in Rwanda, fallen asleep, and I believe it is the fault of two industries; catering and media.

Rwanda will never succeed in the way it should if people come to the country and are overwhelmed by its geographical beauty and sociological blandness.

It is a serious problem, and one that is entirely in our own hands. If this country becomes known as a land of simply gorillas and Genocide, Rwanda will never gain the peer respect it deserves.

But the problem Rwanda is currently facing—and it really is crushing the country, in my view—has really nothing to do with art or culture, It has to do with the organization of that art and culture, of that spirit.

The problem is about its acknowledgement, but specifically about how the community embraces a very important part of itself.
This is the state of Rwanda today.

As many in the government and private-sector call for the alignment of standards in the customer services industries, our thoughts should also turn to the responsibilities these institutions owe to society, not simply to the consumer.

The success or failure of arts in Rwanda lies squarely in the hands of the media and culinary industries.

Restaurants and newspapers hold the power and thus responsibility to promote and organize information about the arts in the city.

So far, we have not been doing our job.

There should be a publication in Rwanda where one can go and find centrally distributed information on weekly events around Kigali or the country.

Though numerous restaurants and hotels host open-mic nights and special concerts, they are rarely highlighted.

The truth is that people in Kigali simply don’t know what to do in their own city; not because nothing is going on (as so many people love to protest), because there’s no place to read about it. This is the role of the media.

Not only are newspapers supposed to disseminate news, but they are the holders and organizers of information on the society. It should be seen as the failure of every major print media house in the country, including The New Times, that no serious attention is paid to local art and music.

Development will forever look like carbon-copied globalization if there is no development of the mind and self, and that is missing in Rwanda.

There are thousands of young and eager musicians in Kigali alone, and they are good. Unfortunately, they are shown little support by the rest of the country. People should be ashamed, and if they are not, there is no hope for this country.

And because the art industry in Rwanda is completely disorganized, it is also an entirely untapped economic player.

Simply organizing and publicizing arts will enhance interest in them, and if one can read that a certain band will be playing at a certain time at this venue, that many more people will attend, and that much more money will be generated, and that much more Rwanda will blossom.

And not only that, but that many more people will read that newspaper, and that much more will the restaurants reputation grow.
This is, literally, about opening eyes. Something is there, but it is valueless unless we see it, and use it.

Restaurants also have nothing to lose but potential business opportunities and ‘street creed.’ Atmosphere is the difference between everybody’s favorite hangout and the bar or café that closes two months after it opens.

It should be in the interest of the business, city, society, and artist himself for live music to be a mainstay of Kigali’s night scene.

It’s about caring. It’s about loving who you are and where you live. It’s about pride. It’s about being serious about your job and being serious as a citizen.

We must enrich the soil of these fertile hills. The land of a thousand hills. The land of a thousand smiles. The land of a thousand possibilities.

Ends

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