Rwanda's social spaces coming back to life with live events

Thursday October 14 2021
Rwanda art space

Rwandan rapper Joshua Tuyishime during one of his painting sessions at Uburanga Art Centre in Kigali. Art spaces are slowly opening up in Rwanda after the lifting of the ban on public events. PHOTO | ANDREW I KAZIBWE


Three weeks since Rwanda lifted the ban on public events, commercial entrepreneurs and art spaces are yet to fully resume business. A few spaces are open under strict Ministry of Health conditions, starting at midday and ending at 10pm.

“People had missed socialising,” says Willy Karekezi, a visual artist and founder of Indiba Art Space.

Located in Kimihurura, Kigali, the space recently held art exhibitions and hosted an album listening event.

In August, Kaizen Hotel in Nyabugogo launched its first silent disco. The event was hailed as a success, but “for an event of its nature, people weren’t allowed to stand and dance,” said Philbert Nizeyimana alias DJ Phil Peter, one of the event’s organisers. Police officers were present to stop people from freely dancing.

The Hotel Des Mille Colline has also resumed its Friday evenings Gakondo music show, performed by a live traditional troupe at its outdoor space. Entrance is free, and it runs from 6.30pm to 9.30pm.

Envison Rwanda in Kimihurura recently hosted "Paint with Us", a live session, for amateurs to paint on canvas. Entrance was Rfw10,000 ($10). “The lockdown times were a challenge, but we had to keep up,” says Peter Lee, the founder.


But the situation is far from back to normal, as these art spaces don’t charge entrance fees. The fees sustain the business.

“We are hopeful that as the economy heals, people will gradually develop a spending culture again, and they will spend on art,” said artist Karekezi.

Mathew Rugamba, co-founder of Collective Rw-Week of Fashion, said; “What we have been through has changed the way people relate and experience things."