Narrating the plight of refugees in art

Saturday April 21 2018

Burundian artist Chris Schwagga explains his work to members of the public at Innovation Village. PHOTO | ANDREW I. KAZIBWE | NATION


In his latest craft, Burundian artist Chris Schwagga tells the tale of refugees. His recently staged exhibition resonates with most African and world sole cross-cutting issue — refugees.
Dubbed Refuge, the exhibition, which adorned the Kigali’s Innovation Village exhibition space in Kacyiru unveils something complex, yet relatable.

Inspired from the reality that Schwagga encounters in his life, the exhibition reveals challenges refugees face, right from Burundi, his homeland to Rwanda.
“My aim is to spark a debate, since as life is, it is viewed from a perspective, yet it still is meaningful,” Schwagga said.

Refuge, which is his first solo exhibition, is an abstract presentation of mix-media artworks by the artist.

Typical about this set, which comprises over 20 pieces, is the Motor Cycle Helmet, which appears in most of the pieces. To Schwagga, this is an emblem of protection that, he has confided in ever since his refugee journey kicked off years ago.


One of the pieces by Schwagga. PHOTO | ANDREW KAZIBWE | NATION

Just like life is, Refuge is a depiction of aspects like illumination, connection, passion, reflection, similarity, which is all shared through humanity.

To the him, home is not just a dwelling, but much more of a place, where one is welcomed. The exhibition is Schwagga’s evidence of peaceful environment in Rwanda, where he has in recent years become one of the most sought after photographers.


Schwagga uses helmets, since they are familiar tools that accompany the taxi-motor, a typical public transport medium used across East Africa.