The Great Black Music is the latest exhibition being held at the Kigali Public Library. It is organised by Rwanda Arts Initiative (RAI), a platform that brings together artistes and aims to contribute to the professionalisation of the arts industry.
The exhibition kicked off in March and will end later this month. It is a revolutionary, interactive exhibition that showcases the evolution of black music through the ages and across continents.
The exhibition is being supported by Africalia, an initiative of the Belgian Development Co-operation, which supports the audio-visual sector, literature, performing arts and visual arts.
The music is played on smart tablets that are mounted on the walls of the library. One is able to listen to the music with headphones and watch the videos, which are in French and English.
The multimedia exhibition are eight hours long and features music from River Congo, through Congo Square, to Abidjan, from Gorea Island to the shores of the Caribbean, then to the London neighbourhood, Paris to America, where neo-soul, funk, jazz, soul, pop, rock and reggae.
The exhibition, which is co-produced by Atelier 144 digital arts factory, takes one back to music from the years of slavery.
The music features a blend of African, American, Caribbean and European roots. Legends like Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Harry Belafonte, Duke Ellington, Aretha Franklin, Fela Kuti, Franco, Miriam Makeba, Salif Keita, John Coltrane, Elvis Presley, Kassav, Bob Marley, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, Michael Jackson, Nina Simone and Youssou N’Dour are featured.
Since its inception in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil in 2009, the exhibition has been featured in nine countries consisting of Haiti, France, Senegal, Reunion, South Africa, Brazil, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ouagadougou. It has attracted over 230,000 visitors.
This is the first time the show is being hosted in East Africa and Rwanda is the tenth host country.
The exhibition’s debut in May attracted over 2,500 people, most of whom were expatriates. With its conclusion scheduled for August 25, many Rwandans are yet to turn up for it.