Live painting works breathe new life into the mural story

Wednesday March 24 2021

Artists during mural paintings at the recent Rwanda Art Museum in Kigali. PHOTO | ANDREW I. KAZIBWE


To most Rwandans, mural painting is a foreign idea that is nonetheless drawing attention and admiration of the public.

As one approaches the Rwanda Art Museum in Kanombe, Kigali, one can’t help but notice two newly erected gigantic artworks.

In the wake of Kigali’s second lockdown, and in the spirit of getting the public to see more of this genre, the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda, embarked on street art.

At the beginning of March, the arts world went a step further for passersby: A live painting exercise by four artists.

For close to five days, the exercise brought together Benjamin Swatez, an artist from the US, Amanda Azerine Deluca from Canada, Louise Kanyange and Samuel Daddy Ishimwe alias Daddy is Me from Rwanda.

Following days of hand painting, the four volunteer artists, transformed the entrance walls of Rwanda Art Museum.


On the museum’s left entrance wall is the first creation, a semi-abstract mural of Rwandan customs; from ancient traditional evenings by the fireplace, a traditional dance by Intore dancers, to activities like drumming, high jumping and cattle praise (Ukuvugira Inka).

Such are customs which have gradually been written and learned of by many, come to life, though also practiced at the King’s Palace Museum in Nyanza district.

The right wall of the entrance sets another facet of the Rwandan Story. With no doubt ‘Stories are best told through images too,’ this second painting sends the eye pondering not only how stories are sorted from various times in space and age, but the craft behind this general collaborative spirit.

The story of this painting begins from an image of an elderly male, depicting the ancestors, who while puffing a tobacco pipe, his sight direction, directed by smoke from the pipe leads to Rwanda’s evolution, depicted through familiar images of infrastructure like the Kigali Convention Centre, the satellite, and more.

Lights of hope Images like the Bee depicts honeycomb and beekeeping of Rwanda as the ‘Land of Milk and Honey.’ From the right, the same mural starts with an image of Liberators, who fought the liberation war that ended the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis. Above these is the beautiful terrain of hills and mountains.

From these shine lights of hope being restored in the country. In the centre is a group of Agaseke, the traditional basket, another depiction of culture and custom.