Good Cause: The Ahazaza Centre

I was contacted recently by Martin, a volunteer involved in the Ahazaza School and the setup of a new cultural centre in Gitarama. It’s an interesting project and I wanted to bring some attention to it.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your involvement with the Ahazaza Centre.

I am a German Livesound Engineer, touring with bands in Europe and spending the concert-free-time traveling the world with a small folding bicycle. Last October i was cycling Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and when passing the city of Gitarama i was attracted by Ahazaza Independent School, its pedagogical and philosophical approach and its possibilities and projects (like ecological farm, multipurpose hall, internet cafe etc). I decided to come back in November to help caring about the event hall of the school.

What is the Ahazaza Centre?

Ahazaza Centre is the new name of the school’s multipurpose hall, which was neglected long time and in the last three months was prepared to come to life again. Now it is a modern event hall that just opened.

What sorts of events are you hoping to hold at the centre?

We do concerts, cinema, shows and party. Also renting the hall for conferences, weddings and so on. The Centre is equipped with proper light and sound system, strong video beamer 5x3m screen, independent power system (generator), a young motivated team and program/content five to six days a week.

When was it created and by who?

Placide Safali and me did the main preparation in the last two months, everything from casting a team, painting inside/outside, solving building problems, repairing sound/light/video, website+promotion, program/content, fundraising, buying chairs and all the other necessary things for events.

What’s the purpose of the centre?

The main purpose of Ahazaza Centre is to enrich the cultural life in Muhanga Province and same-times making money for the Ahazaza School, which wants to be more independent from western donations. Soccer TV is the main attraction for the local people and is the most profitable, but we also want to care about cultural content, education, enlightening topics. While its serving in the morning for school’s purposes (ceremonies, scientific movies, musical instruments teaching) it opens every afternoon after school for the public events.

Can you tell us about the Ahazaza School?

The school was founded in 2006 by an 80-year-old lady Raina Luff and some Rwandan friends in order to give the chance to the people in that small town to benefit from a good quality model school and the opportunity of a high standard education. Referring to Raina: “Knowledge is the corner stone of equality”. The school is not supported by governmental money, is also independent from religious/ideologic institutions. Part of the students pay school fees, other part who can’t afford this get scholarships.

Who are the students?

The 250 students are all from Gitarama, mainly living in the school’s neighborhood.

How is the school currently funded?

Ahazaza’s objective is to reach self-financing as part of the country’s sustainable development program, but this goal is not yet reached. The school fees are far from being enough to face the running expenses of the school, and the businesses (internet cafe/event hall) are not yet profitable, so donations from European friends
and some institutions (Philippson Foundation/Roi Baudouin Foundation) fill the gap.

How do we get there from Kigali?

If you’re coming rom Kigali, take Horizon Bus from Nyabogogo to Gitarama which is a 1 hour drive. The bus costs Rwf 900. The Ahazaza Centre is in 300m distance from main station.

How can people get involved with the school and the centre?

You can find us on Facebook, email us at or come to our place – volunteers, visitors, customers, journalists… everyone is welcome!

How do you think the Ahazaza Centre will impact the local community?

It impacts in multiple ways: providing a professionally run place for culture and entertainment for Muhanga province, giving jobs to local people, setting new standards in live events, giving local artists the possibility to perform live on stage, being a model and training field for some students of Ahazaza School who are interested in management or sound/light/video, promoting the idea of getting independent from donations/begging…

What are the hopes for the future of the Ahazaza School and Centre?

For Ahazaza Centre the vision is to develop the best place for culture and entertainment in Rwanda. That means mainly: best technical equipment, best crew+management, best content.

For the Ahazaza School we hope to become self sufficient and to have the means to be able to always improve the quality of the education we give to our students, education based on interactive methodology, creative and critical thinking. Forming personalities. Understanding instead of repeating.

Address: Ahazaza School, Gitarama
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About Kirsty

A Canadian who left in 2001 to wander around the world in search of sun, beautiful views and goat brochettes. Found Kigali in July 2010 and it seems like the perfect fit. I expect to be here until I get kicked out for defiantly walking on the grass while wearing flip flops.