Think Rwanda, and thoughts immediately turn to the horific genocide that tore the country apart 20 years ago. But this exhibition looks to the present and the future, and how Rwanda has moved on from its past. A dozen African photographers present a varied portfolio of photographs they feel represent Rwanda today.
After a few portraits of people bearing the scars of the past, the show quickly segues into showing how the country has bounced back with shots of local business men and women, including barber shops and a woman standing proudly in front of her brightly coloured clothes store.
Cows have been taken on as a symbol of Rwanda’s recovery and there are many pictures of locals with their livestock but the most captivating is a green field of brown longhorn cattle whose layered composition by Yves Manzi makes for a fantastic image.
The photographs are not all positive. Jean Bizima has chosen to highlight the poverty that still exists in the country, and a particularly moving photograph shows a young girl sat alone on a bed in a dark room. Cyril Ndegeya’s harrowing photographs show how road traffic accidents remain a frequent cause of death — a mangled motorcycle lies next to a dented truck with a couple of helmets laid aside respectfully.
Each photographer offers their own unique insight into Rwanda, and it comes across as a diverse country. There are some excellent individual photographs yet the stark differences between each portfolio does reduce the cohesion slightly.
Rwanda in Photographs: Death then, Life now is presented by the King’s College Cultural Institute and is on in the Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing until 30 April. Entrance is free.