20 years ago, Rwanda, a country situated within the central and eastern boundaries of Africa witnessed genocide. Estimates of those who perished in the atrocity vary from 500,000 to 1,000,000.
20 years on, photographer Harrison Thane, with the help of start-up ‘Salon Africa’, will bring post-war Rwanda to our artistic attention in a positive light with an exhibition at the end of April funded through Indiegogo an online crowd funding website.
Thane’s images display the efforts of change and the warmth of progress of a country once in throws of chaos, now on the long road to recovery.
“I took the opportunity to capture everyday life and beautiful landscapes that contradict the horrific images of a country that only twenty years ago experienced a massive genocide”
“I feel that many people have a misconstrued concept of what Rwanda and its people are like. people fear Rwanda and believe it is a place of violence, terror and devastation, but this is not true.”
Thane’s Imagery brings to life the reality of Rwanda 20 years on, a side to the country that the media has not allowed the world to understand.
Through Indiegogo a crowd funding website and private sponsorship Salon Africa and Harrison Thane plan to raise the funding to exhibit the images and produce a cutting edge cultural event in the heart of London at the end of April.
Salon Africa will present a dynamic and innovative series of activities, Educational programs, panel discussions, curated projects and events within the gallery space.
Salon Africa is a new contemporary art project space with Africa at the heart of its program and subject. It’s principally based on contemporary artists based in Africa, from its diaspora and other countries — who engage in a dialogue with the African context.
The Rwandan genocide, amongst all the ills in modern history stands alone. The warrant destruction of lives and the ferocity in which mass killings were carried out gave a new meaning to the term ‘crimes against humanity’.
Between April and June 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwadans were brutally massacred in the space of 100 days.
Rwanda’s pre and post colonial history has been well documented for its turbulent nature, spurrdon by rivalries between the countries two largest ethnic groups, the Tutsis and Hutus.
On the 6th April 1994 the plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu was shot down above Kigali airport.
Accusations, theories and denials are still traded till this day about who were the masterminds behind Habyarimana’s assassination. Yet his death proved the stimulant for ethnic cleansing not seen on such a scale since the end of the Second World War.
In Kigali, the Rwandan capital, the presidential guard sought immediate retribution. Leaders of the political opposition were murdered, and almost immediately, the slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus began.
Almost a million Tutsi’s were led to their early grave by Hutu soldiers and militias. The killings were finally brougt to an end as the Rwandese Patriotic Front, a Tutsi led political/paramilitary group crossed over from Uganda and laid siege on the Hutu forces and interim Rwandan government.
Fighting was eventually brought under control and order was partially restored, whilst a humanitarian crisis grew from displaced and injured refugees on both sides.
20 years has passed since the atrocities shook a country on the verge of implosion, yet the scars still remain. The world once again knew the brutality of man and the fragility of life.