Rwanda Museums and Community involvement in celebrating International Museum Day:
The Institute of National Museums of Rwanda (INMR), under the theme, “Umuco wacu Inkingi y’Ubunyarwanda” (Our culture, the pillar of Rwandan identity), joined the rest of the worldwide community of museums in celebrating International Museum Day (IMD). Every year since 1977 International Museum Day is organized worldwide around May 18. This day is an occasion to raise awareness on how important museums are in the development of society. The International theme chosen for IMD 2017 was "Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums"
In order to encourage the community to discover the role of museums, Rwanda Museums organized various activities including an ‘open door’ day on 18th May, whereby the general public was invited free of charge, to visit all museum branches around the country; seeing about 4700 people benefit from this opportunity as they learnt and discovered a lot about Rwanda’s unique heritage.
On 20th May 2017, Rwanda Museums also held cultural competitions among ten (10) schools in Nyanza district aiming at not only cultural talent detection but also upholding Rwanda’s rich heritage in the young generation who are future leaders, parents and custodians of our cultural and natural heritage. Students competed in four fields including traditional dance, drawing, poetry and general knowledge of Rwanda’s heritage whereby the best (2) students/groups from each school were given prizes and certificates whilst the rest were given certificates of appreciation as a motivation for them to keep upholding their cultural values.
More remarkable also is a special package for Rwanda Museums’ stakeholders (media and Tour operators) – a two days excursion tour of museums in Kigali and Southern Province which took place from 25th and 26th May 2017, aiming at fortifying partnership between Museums, Media and Tour operators in raising museum awareness as well as promoting Rwanda’s cultural tourism nationally and Internationally.
These stakeholders are museums voice and their contribution to cultural tourism promotion is so vital, hence giving them an opportunity to fully understand the products which they sell to their clients will be rewarding. Most of them were fascinated by museums collections which they confessed were new to them. Gertrude Majyambere, a representative of Rwanda Tour and Travel Association expressed her utmost excitement to visit museums. ‘I am so fascinated by this rich heritage which I personally did not know yet I work in the tourism sector’, asserted Gertrude. According to her, this tour was an eye opener to most of the tour operators. She believes that the tour helped her enhance her package whilst drawing an itinerary for her clients.
Media personnel that were present also exhibited great excitement for the tour and most of them wished it had gone longer than just two days. However, this is rather a beginning than the end. Rwanda Museums plans to reach out to the community through its various programs including ‘mobile museum’, outreach, holidays in museums, museums in schools, cultural competitions, etc.
On 26th May, Rwanda Museums marked the closure of International Museum week with various activities, remarkably the carnival which began from Nyanza town (Mater Dei - Nyanza) to the National Art Gallery, an event that registered thousands of participants ranging from all secondary schools in Nyanza, school leaders, Nyanza district high officials, Museums DG and staff, religious leaders, media as well as other stakeholders.
The climax of the day was the actual celebrations whereby the best performing students in the cultural competition were announced, awarded and later entertained guests with extraordinary dances, poems and art pieces that earned them first positions.
In his remarks, museums DG Amb. Robert Masozera asserted that he was so thrilled by these children’s incomparable talents and cultural knowledge. ‘I am very astonished by your talent and I must say I am proud of the stars that you are’ said Amb. Masozera. ‘This proves to me that you are not malnourished in your culture, I am so impressed by the love for your heritage’, he added. He proceeded to emphasize that Rwanda Museum will continue to strive for its mission and vision which is to collect, preserve, research and present Rwandese past and present cultural and natural national heritage; as well as provide museums and heritage sites around the country with a platform for educating and exposing Rwandan Cultural and Natural richness.
Amb. Masozera also applauded Nyanza district schools leadership for having welcomed the idea and granted students an opportunity to participate in the competitions. He also commended stakeholders for the invaluable contribution to the development of museums as he unveiled to them the new packages which are targeted to wave off some of the stakeholders’ and visitors’ costs when visiting the museums. These include combined tickets which will give one chance to visit all museums on one ticket with 30% discount. He further explained that stakeholders including teaches, tour guides, tour operators who bring museum visitors will no more have to pay entrance fee. This was like great music to the stakeholders’ ears.
The Guest of Honor, Mr. NTAZINDA Erasme who is also Nyanza District Mayor expressed his gratitude to Rwanda Museums’ initiative especially the investment into the young generation. In his remarks, Mr. Ntazinda mentioned that Nyanza as Rwanda’s cultural hub, hence choosing to hold such an even in this district is remarkable. He further expressed his wish to make this an annual event and also to extend it to all other districts that make up the country in order to build a stronger nation of a generation with cultural values.
It’s no doubt that Rwanda Museums considered this wish, after all it is in its mandate to preserve Rwanda’s cultural and natural heritage.