For some years now, museums have become increasingly important in Rwanda, not only in the sense of an attractive offer for tourists, but also in order to establish a new identity of their own, which refers both to the traditional culture of Rwanda, but also to a new creativity and language for today, which should thus also apply to the future. The educational mission at schools and universities is complemented by museums, which are to prepare additional visual material for the population. Especially the visual has a great importance in a still very much oral society and stimulates the own imagination.
There is a special connection between Rwanda and Germany, as the country was part of the East African colonial territory of the German Reich. The Kant House in Kigali is the last architectural testimony of the German colonial period, built in 1908 as the residence of the first German resident Richard Kant.
On the occasion of the 150th birthday of Richard Kant, a permanent exhibition on "Rwanda in the time of the Germans" was set up and opened. It shows historical visual and audio material from the time when German colonizers and missionaries came to Rwanda. It was important to us that the Rwandan point of view was included. In addition, it should not be forgotten that the Germans were the first to take pictures and sound recordings of a country that was still quite untouched from the outside, which are very informative for today's Rwanda.
On the initiative of the partnership association, with funds from the Foreign Office in Berlin as well as donations from Rhineland-Palatinate and with the help of the local coordination office, a German-Rwandan team, partly on a voluntary basis, worked hand in hand on the conception of the exhibition. Interviews were conducted with local Rwandans who still had knowledge passed on to them by their parents or grandparents. For the first time, audio documents of songs of the time were brought to Rwanda from German archives. During the German colonial period, the first photographs were taken of Rwandan landscapes of that time, of the social and cultural life of the country.
The exhibition is intended to send a further signal for the preservation of Rwanda's cultural heritage and to provide a place in Rwanda to engage with our shared history. Thus, for the first time in its history, Rwanda has a kind of basic exhibition about this period of German rule in Rwanda, which can and has to be further developed. Especially in today's time, in which we increasingly talk and think about the, historically very burdened, relationship between Europe and the African continent with the African side.