‘Creative Mind - Healthy Culture’ - Rwanda Museums challenges Students to have a creative mind grounded on culture.
Children are always the best sector to invest in for a brighter tomorrow, a reason why Rwanda Museums has continuously focuses on taking culture to future generations by educating children with cultural values from an early stage through its outreach program.
Museum outreach program was initiated to reach out to the Rwandan community and encourage them to visit museums, understand their culture and cherish their heritage. Our main focus is on the children because they are Rwanda’s future leaders, parents, mentors, counselors and custodians of our culture, hence granting them cultural knowledge is a life investment.
Since the outreach program began, museums team has been moving around the country, visiting students with various collections for them to see, touch and feel their culture.
However, the team gradually learnt that there is more that students would discover if they visit the museums themselves because what is taken during the outreach are just samples. Hence, from March 27th to March 28th 2017, Museums outreach team hosted students from schools around Nyanza district at the National Art Gallery, a museum that had been initially constructed for King Mutara III Rudahigwa residence but passed away shortly before he occupied it in 1959.
It was turned into an Art Gallery with the main purpose of upholding the King’s legacy whose passion for Art and Sports was so strong, but also promoting culture through contemporary art. Most of the art pieces exhibited in the museum are about unity, peace, reconciliation which were the core values of Rwandans before colonial era and aftermath of the Genocide against Tutsi.
Choosing the National Art Gallery to host the students was one way of helping them develop creative skills through contemporary art whilst upholding their culture under the theme: ‘creative mind healthy culture’. The two days activities helped children realize the value attached to most of the traditional/cultural collections they took for granted before. They were given a guided tour through the museum and later given an opportunity to bond with culture by interacting with the traditional collections which were displayed; including the traditional attire (ishabure, inkanda, inkindi, impuzu, uruyonga, ikinyita etc), traditional home use objects for example: urusyo, ingasire, agacuma, intango, uruho, etc used for beer processing and serving, igisabo, inkongoro, icyansi, etc used for milk processing and serving; agaseke used for storage and other cultural values attached to it; as well as musical instruments like inanga, ikondera, etc. Students were amazed by each collection.
They also enjoyed the live experience of traditional games including kumasha, gusimbuka urikiramende, uruziga, gukaraza, gukirana, etc.
The youngest of the students who were about 8 years old were astonished by the kids’ studio. They interestingly drew traditional objects given to them and named them to the amazement of their teachers and museums team. This helped them develop their creativity hence building passion for their culture as they drew the traditional objects.
Each day was always concluded with a presentation by students about various lessons leant from the art pieces of their choice. Among many lessons that students presented included: unity, peace, reconciliation, cooperation, patriotism, cohesion, resilience, etc. Museums team and teachers were fascinated by students’ ability to interpret the objects and how they presented lessons learnt from them, as well as their passion to learn more. Through their presentation, students highlighted their desire to visit all the seven museums in order to discover more about their heritage. Students further presented need to set up cultural clubs in their schools which will help them spread the knowledge to their counterparts who had missed out this opportunity, hence requested Rwanda Museums to support them in this initiative.
About 505 students that gained from this program including 81 from Ecole Secondaire Des Parents De Nyanza, 25 from Ecole Secondaire Nyanza B (primary 1), 105 from Ecole Secondaire du St Esprit, 99 from GS Mater Dei and 195 Ecole Secondaire Nyanza B (primary 2). Authorities from these schools commended museums’ invaluable initiative of upholding the Rwandan culture through educating the youths who are tomorrow’s future national pillar. Some of the teachers also confessed that they too learned along with students, remarking that some of the traditional objects were new to them.
It was an honor for museums team to see that students were interested and passionate for upholding their cultural values, hence developing a creative mind, healthy culture. The journey continues and our culture will never fade when our children uphold it with such a passion as these students portrayed.