Painting memories of genocide in exhibitions 27 years later

Wednesday April 07 2021

One of the past Film screening sessions during the Kwibuka. PHOTO | ANDREW I. KAZIBWE


Rwandans is marking 27 years since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. With the commemoration, comes the art scene and how it has evolved in that period as the country convened and listened to survivors’ testimonies and perpetrators’ confessions.

Rwanda Today recounts how various art forms have paid tribute to the tragic past.

Visual art exhibitions

With the visual art scene gradually being embraced to the mainstream entertainment stage, a few painters have in recent years crafted and exhibited works in reflection of the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsi or its aftermaths. Art exhibitions rarely are held on this theme, but a few collections have been witnessed, which indeed either retell the ordeal or reflect upon the country’s rebuild.

Photography as an art has made a resounding impact. Among the past outstanding exhibitions include Jacque Nkinzingabo’s ‘I am a Savivor,’ a 2019 collection comprising of photographs of the youth of his age, all 1994 genocide survivors, and with most to have accomplished higher education. Alongside, but distant from the youth images was a display of handwritten letters, addressed to guardians they lost, with whom they share their resilience in life, and their aspirations with hope. Communication with parents they lost to the tragedy.

Portraits of Reconciliation, a 2015 photography exhibition by the Dutch arts organisation Creative Court featured reflections on forgiveness after the genocide. Appearing at Kigali’s Goethe Institute in 2015, Photographers Pieter Hugo (South African) and Lana Mesic(Croatian-Dutch), captured photographs of conversations on reconciliation and forgiveness among some of the survivors and perpetrators located at Butare in Rwanda. This followed the project’s exhibition in The Hague, New York, and Tokyo in 2014



Various productions have overtime been developed to sensitise as well as preserving the memories of tragedy alive in reflection to unity and reconciliation.

These include; Generation 25, a 2019 production directed by Hope Azeda and Yannick Kamanzi, Miracle in Rwanda, a play created by Leslie Lewis and Edward Vilga. Performed by Malaika Uwamahoro, it is inspired through Le­ to Tell, a 2006 New York Times Best-selling book. Also is Cathedral of Sounds (2016), We Call it Love, by Rwanda’s Ishyo Arts Centre and France’s le Theatre de la Poudrerie, Quest to the Cure, a 2016 productions by Shekinah Drama Team.