Interview: Emmanual from Inema Arts

Emmanual is one of Rwanda’s first contemporary artists and you’re bound to have seen his work on display in various establishments around town. He is currently working out of the Inema Arts Center in Kacyiru and you can get in touch with him at info@inemaartcenter.com.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m the second born in a family of six boys and lived in Uganda for the first ten years of my life. I moved to Rwanda in 1997 and attended two different high schools and then the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) where I completed my university education in computer studies.

How did you become interested in art?

Ever since I was dealing with issues and challenges in life, I found art as some thing that brings creativity, concentration , self expression and risk taking. And art was the get way for the way I deal with things in my day to day activities. I combined all this and practiced as much as I could up to now I do the same thing and I get better every time!

When did you decide to become a professional artist and was this career choice supported?

My big brother Innocent Nkurunziza is doing the same thing and he is the one who encouraged me to keep moving with my art knowledge/carrier.

What is Inema Arts?

Inema is a Kinyarwanda word meaning a blessing, or a gift. We believe that knowing art it is a gift from God and we have to share this gift with others. We have a passion for art…and a love of people and believe that the two coming together can improve lives.

At Inema Gallery we do this by providing a space for artists to create and share their creativity with the community. We have   passion for art, love for people, pride in Rwandan culture, we share creativity, and we try to educate the young ones to be the future generation of the Rwandan contemporary art hence this will bring culture, social and economic change.

How long have you been involved with the Inema Art Center and what is your role?

i have been involved in the rwandan contemporary movement since 2007 and Innocent and myself established the Inema Art Center in 2012. I play a big role art the center alongside my brother and co-founder Innocent, my fellow artists, friends, the women and children under the Inema dancing troupe, children under art with a mission programs, the Rwandan government, our art collectors and all the entire fan base for Inema from the international community.

What sort of artwork do you produce and where can we see it?

I am a mixed-media expressionist and also do abstract painting. You can find my artwork here at Inema Arts, Magda Café, Heaven Restaurant, and at Ishema Hotel.

Have you ever done shows outside of Rwanda?

Yes, I have managed to do shows out side of Rwanda in places such as Sweden, USA and some group shows in England and Holland.

Are the arts something that’s available to students in public schools in Rwanda?

When I was in high school here in Rwanda we used to have no art education in high schools! Am not so sure now… but schools like international schools here in Rwanda teach art and there’s also one school of art based in Gisenyi called Nyundo.

What do you think about the opportunities for young Rwandans today with fine arts?

A great opportunity is that young children can create their own jobs. Art builds skills and through these skills they can use to get jobs in the future. Hence improving on their social economic welfare.

How do you encourage young Rwandans to participate in the arts?

I buy art supplies, teach the twice a week on Thursday and Saturday. and provide market for their finished products. I coordinate classes for drawing and painting. I find art helpful – it stimulates and develops the imagination, critical thinking and creative skills. It is due to this fact that I teach most especially disadvantaged children who don’t have access to art education such as orphans and street kids in multiple orphanage centers here in Kigali and I teach kids here at the studio. I’m currently active with kids living in Les Enfant des Dieu, Pefa/Mpore in Gikondo and in the future, more!

What do you think about the state of Rwanda’s arts scene?

It is good! Most of my workmates are self taught and am so impressed on the art they produce!

What can be done to encourage the arts in Rwanda?

In my opinion, there is a big role that art plays in a society and the community at large. Art plays a big role in appreciating and being aware of different cultures and traditions which Rwanda needs. It strengthens problem solving and critical thinking skills which a a country like Rwanda needs. There are a number of ways i think the government of Rwanda in collaboration with the ministry of sports and culture and other international cultural organizations can join hands together to strengthen what is happening now and also build art schools, art centers , art museums and developing other art in general such as theatres and the music and film industries, to mention but a few.

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.