Rwanda in Photographs: Death Then, Life Now

Twenty years after the genocide in Rwanda that led to the deaths of up to a million people, a powerful exhibition brings work by Rwandan photographers to London, here, in conjunction with the exhibition we publish a selection of these riveting images that portray the complex present of Rwanda twenty years after the events that first brought this small, east African country to international attention.

The photographs are the result of a workshop led by by award-winning international photographers Andrew Esiebo (Nigeria) and Brendon Brannon (US and Kenya) in which photographers from Rwanda questioned the ways in which their country is portrayed internationally.

Rwanda in Photographs: Death Then, Life Now
Until Wednesday 30th April 2014 at Somerset House, London. 

© Andrew Esiebo – Barbershop in Kigali 

Andrew Esiebo is an award-winning Nigerian photographer based in Lagos. His photographs explore heritage, popular culture, gender, sexuality, football and migration in Nigeria and beyond.

While in Rwanda for the exhibition workshop he extended his series on West African barbershops to examine this typically male space in an East African setting.

© Fabrice Musafiri

Fabrice Musafiri works with film and photography for the Kigali Genocide Memorial. In his personal practice he sees himself as a street photographer. These images capture the night-time economy of Biryogo and
Nyamirambo, two areas in Kigali. 

© Musa Uwitonze, woman portrait

Musa Uwitonze is concerned with showing both the peace and beauty of Rwanda and the sadness of enduring suffering. 

Uwitonze, who himself grew up in an orphanage, is currently finishing a degree in tourism. He grew up in the Imababazi orphanage after his parents died in Congo during the genocide.

From the age of nine, Uwitonze participated in the photography programme Through the Eyes of Children, started by David Jiranek – as an adult he has taken part in short training courses with Seven Photo Agency and Jeremy Cowart.

His project, examining the lives of street children in Kigali today, is motivated by his desire to use photography as a tool for social change. 

© Yves Manzi

Yves Manzi is one Rwanda’s leading painters. While his art is semi-abstract, his photographers are concerned with mapping changes to the built enviroment in Kigali, Butare, and Nyanza.

He is fascinated by the influence of traditional culture on contemporary architecture. 

© Fabrice Musafiri, a store in Kigali

Fabrice Musafiri works with film and photography for the Kigali Genocide Memorial. In his personal practice he sees himself as a street photographer.

These images capture the night-time economy of Biryogo and Nyamirambo, two areas in Kigali. 

©Yves Manzi, traditional building

© Yves Manzi, Royal Cows

Cows have a profound cultural significance in Rwanda. Some Rwandans even go so far as to name their children after the different shades of cows’ coats: Igaju (brown), Umukara (black), Isine (browny black), and Umusengo (brown and white). 

Traditionally associated with the Tutsi group, cows are now a symbol of a united Rwanda, reflected in dance, song and idiomatic language. 

The government initiative Girinka aims to give 350, 000 cows to poor families to help them out of poverty by 2015. 

© Cyril Ndegeya, overturned truck

Photojournalist Cyril Ndegeya has been passionate about photographing traffic accidents for many years now; while Rwanda’s roada are safer than those of it’s neighbours, Ndegeya wants his images to be a catalyst for further change. 

Rwanda in Photographs: Death Then, Life Now is at Somerset House until Wednesday 30th April 2014

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