Unexpected Questions Addressed to a Rwandan Photographer When He Was in Europe

"The world should recognize that we, Rwandans, overcame the forged so called races ‘Hutu, Tutsi, Twa’ and replaced them with the common pride of being Rwandans." – Said Nkinzingabo Jacques, a Rwandan photographer, in his recent interview with a Rwanda based newspaper ‘Izuba Rirashe’.

Not till he traveled in different European countries, could he imagine that some people still have the Rwanda’s image of 60s-90s.

The founder of Kwanda Art Foundation, Nkinzingabo Jacques was shocked with unexpected questions he was asked by some of the people he met in Europe where he recently traveled for his photos exhibition.

“Are you Hutu or Tutsi?” With such question, Nkinzingabo couldn’t believe his ears. While he expected questions about how Rwanda achieved unshakable unity, reconciliation, and social-economic development in only 22 years after the Genocide against Tutsi, he was addressed such unexpected question.

During the interview Nkinzingabo, also revealed that he experienced skin-color based racism when he was in Europe. “Hanging out with friends, we were ignored entrance in some public places with no other reason than being black.” he said.

Nkinzingabo exhibited his photos at Ravensburg in Germany. Photos he exhibited were a collection dubbed ‘Rwanda Unseen’, which reflects Rwandans’ everyday life. The collection is made of his own photos and others taken by former street children he trains on photography. With those photographs, Nkinzingabo is also raising fund to send those former street children back to school.

After Germany, Nkinzingabo also went in France for another photo exhibition, and finally in Belgium. In France, he exhibited a collection dubbed “Place I Belong To”. The collection is made of photos he took from different African countries like Rwanda, DRC, Burundi, Uganda, Mali, and more.

Nkinzingabo appreciated the way people were interested to learn more about his photographs, but he was surprised to find that some of them think Africa to be a continent described by wars, poverty, hungry, and diseases. He feel proud that his photographs gave them the real image of a stunning beauty of Africa.

 “We know that Africans are always fighting and struggling with poverty. Do they truly let out such a radiant smile I can see on some of your photos?” A question Nkinzingabo was asked by a student at a high school in Germany. As a response, Nkinzingabo showed him 10 different photos he took in different parts of Africa where happiness, health, and pride are emotionally reflected.”

“Obviously, our continent has been misreported for a long period of time and we, Africans, need to work hard to let the world see the real image of our beloved continent.” Nkinzingabo urged.

In Belgium, Nkinzingabo made contact with an organisation known as Kuumba and he received their invitation for another photo exhibition to take place the upcoming year.

During his interview, Nkinzingabo said he was also getting ready to travel to Nigeria for another Photo Exhibition, where he would also give a presentation on his experience in the career of photography including testimonies about his recent travel in Europe.

Photo credits: Izubarirashe.rw


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