By Daniel Nelson


Rwanda in Photohraphs

Rwanda in Photohraphs

Image by Jacqueline Rutagarama

It’s not quite the real deal, because if an estimated 800,000 Rwandans had not died in the 1994 genocide the exhibition in London would not have been staged.

But let’s be thankful for small mercies. Nothing can compensate for mass killings, but since the army of exiles marching in from Uganda stopped the pogrom Rwanda has quietly been putting itself back to together again. And that’s what Rwanda in Photographs: Death Then, Life Now celebrates.

Apart from James Nachtwey’s opening  large photograph of a man scarred by machete wounds, none of the pictures are showstoppers. They don’t stop you in your tracks or provoke critics to write about photography as art. But as the blurb says, it’s the first group show of work by Rwandan photographers outside Rwanda and they “show us moments of life in Rwanda today, seen through Rwandan eyes.”

For that, three cheers.

One of the most striking images – of cattle with wonderfully elongated spiral horns – turns out, not surprisingly, to be by a painter, Yves Manzi.  He was in Congo during the genocide and returned home the following year. He is now designer and curator for the National Museums of Rwanda.

The photographers’ backgrounds are as varied as their subjects. Cyril Ndegaya was a satellite dish installer but has moved into photography – particularly road accidents, apparently because his four-year-old niece was killed in one.

Jacqueline Rutagarama – who returned to Rwanda while the genocide was underway – focuses on women in business. Photojournalist George Baryamwisaki grew up in his father’s photography studio in Uganda and he, too, returned in 1994. His pictures are of survivors’ cows.

Fabrice Musafiri, a genocide survivor, works at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre and sees himself as a street photographer. Another survivor is Jean Luc Habyarimana: he works for Plan and his pictures are of a recording studio.

Photography has changed the lives of business information technology student Claudia Ingabire, who used it to help her pay for her studies, as did Jean Bizimana, who shows the lives of ordinary people. Ingabire’s subject is the One Cow Per Family programme, while Uganda-born Timothy Chester, a reporter who has shifted into photojournalism, chronicles the excitement in a refugee camp over the arrival of donated clothes.

John Mbanda is another former Uganda exile but is now a photojournalist on The New Times daily while studying in the evening for an MA in genocide studies. He focuses on a workshop.  Mussa Uwitonze, whose parents died in Congo during the genocide, looks at street children and says he wants to use photography as a tool for social change.

The show also has a quilt by Jenny Matthews consisting of her pictures of survivors, as well as work by Nigerian photographer Andrew Esiebo and US photojournalist Brendan Bannon. They ran a workshop in Kigali that was convened by Zoe Norridge, an academic at King’s College London whose current research is on cultural responses to the genocide. This exhibition sprang from the workshop.

·         Rwanda in Photographs: Death Then,  Life Now is at King's College London's Cultural Institute in the Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, Strand, daily 12-6pm, Thursdays 12-8pm. It is free. Info:

Rwanda in Photographs: Events

A series of events in the Inigo Rooms and nearby venues accompany King’s College London's Rwanda in Photographs exhibition: 

Genocide Commemoration with Survivors Fund (SURF)

Friday 21 March 2014, 18.00 – 19.00, followed by a reception
King's College London Chapel, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS

Free entry - but please reserve your place online

We welcome Rwandans and friends of Rwanda to join us for a reflective event commemorating the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Set in the beautiful surroundings of King's College London's Chapel, this commemoration will consider the enormous losses of genocide and the ongoing challenges in the present. In partnership with Survivors Fund (SURF) we will be hosting testimonies by genocide survivors, talks by representatives of Survivors Fund and the Rwandan community, and a candle lighting ceremony. All are welcome to join us for a reception afterwards in the Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing.

A joint event with Survivors Fund (SURF).

Rwanda 1994-2014: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Monday 24 March 2014, 18.30 – 20.00, followed by a reception
Great Hall, King's College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS

Tickets: £5 (£3 students, King's staff and alumni, unwaged, RAS members)
Book tickets

Rwanda has made significant political, social and economic strides since the 1994 genocide, which in the space of 100 days claimed the lives of over 800,000 Tutsis and their perceived Hutu and Twa sympathisers. Today the Rwandan government faces substantial criticisms regarding political liberalisation, human rights and volatile foreign relations in the Great Lakes region. This event looks back to ask how we should most effectively commemorate the genocide and looks forward to ask to what extent criticisms of Rwanda are justified and where the country is headed in the next 20 years and beyond.

Speakers: Vincent Gasana, Rene Claudel Mugenzi, Pritish Behuria, David Booth and Phil Clark (chair).

A joint event with the Royal African Society and School of Oriental and African Studies.

A Just Response to Genocide?

Wednesday 26 March, 18.30 – 20.00
Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, London WC2R 2LS

Tickets: £5 (£3 students, King's staff and alumni, unwaged)
Book tickets

Free tickets are available for members of the Dickson Poon School of Law and students who are part of KISS-DTC, but registration is required via the Law School webpage.

Criminal justice has held the centre stage in determining a just response to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Over the last twenty years, trials have been pursued through the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the Rwandan national courts and the localised gacacacommunity courts. The 20th commemoration of the lives lost during this appalling violence offers an opportunity to ask the broader question of what constitutes a just response to genocide. This panel examines resistance before and during the genocide, established criminal trials, retributive and reparatory justice and, finally, the ongoing nature of claims for prosecution and compensation in Rwanda and overseas.


·         Alice Urusaro Karekezi, Lecturer, National University of Rwanda (NUR) and board member of the African Leadership Centre at King’s College London

·         Juergen Schurr, Legal Advisor at REDRESS

·         Albert Gasake, Legal Advocacy Coordinator, Survivors Fund (SURF) Rwanda

·         Henry Redwood, PhD candidate in War Studies King’s College London

·         Nicola Palmer, Lecturer in Criminal Law, Dickson Poon School of Law

·         Phil Clark (chair), Reader in Comparative and International Politics, SOAS

A joint event with Survivors Fund (SURF), King’s College London Dickson Poon School of Law, REDRESS, SOAS and the Royal African Society.

Finding a Literary Voice in East Africa: A Case for Rwanda. Followed by a screening of  award-winning Rwandan feature film Grey Matter

Thursday 27 March 2014, 18.00 – 21.00
Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, London WC2R 2LS

Tickets: £5 (£3 students, King's staff and alumni, unwaged)
Book tickets

- Finding a Literary Voice in East Africa: A Case for Rwanda

Literary voices in Rwanda are still emerging. The country has a rich poetic heritage but much of the work published internationally since 1994 has focused on narrative testimony. This event considers the growth of literary writing in Rwanda, drawing on case studies from East Africa. Billy Kahora, Managing Editor of the Kwani Literary Network in Kenya, joins us to discuss his experiences running creative writing courses in Kigali. An award-winning writer himself, Kahora will reflect on the challenges involved in finding a writer’s voice and Kwani’s work in the region. He is in conversation with Kate Haines, Director of Material Books.

- Grey Matter

An extraordinarily beautiful and disturbing film exploring the legacies of genocide, Grey Matter (Matière Grise) chronicles the vision and trials of a filmmaker trying to produce his first feature, The Cycle of the Cockroach. The dreamlike narrative offers an acutely visually searing depiction of trauma and loss, while the shift between different worlds – that of the filmmaker and that of his subjects – refuses any one interpretation. The Tribeca Film Festival jury called it ‘audacious and experimental’ and gave the film awards for Best Actor and Special Jury Mention. The New York Times commented simply: ‘Acutely probing… From despair, art’. With an introductory greeting recorded by director Kivu Ruhorahoza for this screening.

Photographing Rwanda After Genocide

Tuesday 29 April 2014, 18.00 – 20.00
Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, London WC2R 2LS

Tickets: £5 (£3 students, King's staff and alumni, unwaged)
Book tickets


Join a panel of Rwandan and international photographers to discuss how Rwanda is depicted in images twenty years after genocide.

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