Promoting culture through a café

Daddy Ruhorahoza, 25, dreams of promoting the arts and culture by selling Spanish cuisine in Kigali. But how does he plan to do this?
Torero Café: A melting pot for the arts (Courtesy photo)
Torero Café: A melting pot for the arts (Courtesy photo)

Daddy Ruhorahoza, 25, dreams of promoting the arts and culture by selling Spanish cuisine in Kigali. But how does he plan to do this?

The energetic Ruhorahoza talks passionately about his project of creating a cozy restaurant that will serve as a “melting pot” of cultures.

“This is going to be an artistic café with internet and more importantly, artists will meet here and exchange ideas,” Ruhorahoza explains.

He says that his café will be a place where people who love culture will go and not only have a good time, but also exchange ideas.

Explains Ruhorahoza, “I noticed that [artists] do not have a place where you can go and do your work. For this reason, I chose to invest my time and capital in a café that would be designed in such a way that would promote cultural diversity.”

The café’s decor speaks volumes about what is in store for those who will frequent it; it is bound to rock the city.

The place feels mysterious. Ruhorahoza says this was intentional.

“I wanted to give it a hidden, secret feel.”

To make it a real cultural centre, he has reserved a place where a library will be located and he plans to stock it with books on a wide range of topics. Importantly, many of the books will be on Rwandan culture and poetry.

In one corner, is a stage where people will read poetry. Apart from poetry, local artists will have an opportunity to exhibit their work in the restaurant and a small conference room for artists to organise some of their activities will also be available.

More still, at Torero Café in downtown Kigali, there is going to be a film screening every evening.

Apart from expatriates who are often interested in exploring such places, Ruhorahoza says that he will be targeting young Rwanda professionals with spending power. He says that naturally all businesses target those who have the spending capacity.

Emmanuel Nziza, 27, describes himself as a “man about town”. He says that such cafes are worth every penny. “Foremost, there is going to be a wireless internet facility that allows patrons to work while they enjoy themselves at the café.”

He adds that there aren’t many places of the kind and this is a welcome development for Kigalians and those visiting from abroad.

According to its proprietor, Torero will be an entertainment spot with local and regional artists presenting shows.

The challenge
“To set up a unique café that would encompass a wide range of cultures, has not been an easy experience” says Ruhorahoza. “But what was most challenging is getting space that would accommodate the kind of thing I wanted.”

He adds that it is also very challenging finding staff that are up to the task. He explains, “this is because there aren’t many institutions that train people in such areas as tourism and catering.”

He has had to be innovative. He had to redesign the building and also train staff in such a way that they would be up to the task.

He hastens to add that there is a great opportunity for such projects in Kigali. “Kigali is like a blank space for people who want to do this kind of work,” explains Ruhorahoza.

“I have seen these kinds of culturally oriented cafes in many other places and I have confidence that such will be a success in Rwanda,” says Nadine Uwamahoro, 31, adding that a café that screens films is the ‘in thing’. Indeed, Ruhorahoza drew his inspiration from his ‘Marco Polo’ lifestyle.

He says that he has traveled far and wide and as a result, he ended up dreaming of such a place in his home country. And now at the age of 25, he is turning that into reality.