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Culture - Arts

Post-genocide exhibition concludes Rwanda tour

afrol News, 9 June - The photo exhibition "Rwanda - Back to Life, Ten Years after the Genocide" that officially opened in Rwanda's south eastern province of Kibungo on 7 April, now concludes its tour of various districts in the country with a 21-25 June display at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology.

Its opening in Rwanda coincided with the launching of nationwide activities to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the genocide, in which over 800,000 people died in a period of 100 days, triggered by the 6 April 1994 shooting down of a plane carrying the country's President at that time.

The 30 panels mounted with 80 photos taken between 2000 and 2003 by photographer Thomas Lohnes portray genocide victims and perpetrators, the arduous search for truth during the gacaca community-run courts, problems encountered by returnees, and the situation of street children and people living with HIV/AIDS. Photographs also depicted activities of the international Lutheran Church community (LWF) in Rwanda, focusing on signs of reconstruction and hope, reconciliation and new life.

The exhibition was prepared by the LWF German National Committee in collaboration with several German humanitarian aid organisations, the Geneva-based global alliance of churches and aid agencies. It was also presented in Finland and Germany, according to LWF.

Anne Masterson, LWF representative in Rwanda says there has been a lot of interest in the exhibition displayed at community halls in three languages; English, French and Kinyarwanda. In Gitarama alone - a province just to the west of the Rwandan capital, Kigali - around 1,300 people had visited the exhibition. Ms Masterson considers this figure significant, because "such artwork is not a common feature in the rural areas," as she says.

- Equally important is the involvement of local authorities, according to LWF. Provincial governors had inaugurated the exhibition and used the opportunity to talk openly to the general public about what occurred during the genocide. They typically had stressed the need to recognise that what happened a decade ago was wrong.

The message of the provincial governors to audiences - including school groups, representatives of various local organisations, churches as well as genocide survivors' associations - had underlined the need for justice and reconciliation, and urged people to focus on creating a common Rwandan identity that is not based on ethnic division.

Discussions about the exhibition's future documentation include a proposal to donate it to the Lutheran Church of Rwanda or archive it at the University of Butare museum, LWF says i a statement released yesterday. Ms Masterson points out that all universities in Rwanda have a cross-cutting theme on peace and reconciliation.

The display "has turned out to be a historic document to be used in the future by the Rwandan people," she stresses. Thus, LWF has decided that the artwork is to remain in Rwanda.

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