Meet the artists at Red Rocks Arts Centre
In the heart of Rwanda’s verdant landscape lies a sanctuary of art, culture, and community, known as Red Rocks Rwanda. A part of the Red Rocks Initiatives, the Red Rocks Cultural Arts Centre emerges as a vibrant tapestry of heritage, creativity, and natural splendour.
Walking through the vibrant compound, visitors are greeted by a kaleidoscope of colours, traditional Rwandan fabrics adorning the walls, local artisans weaving intricate patterns, and the rhythmic beats of dance and music reverberating through the air.
The beating heart of Red Rocks Rwanda lies in its commitment to preserving Rwanda’s cultural heritage and fostering community bonds. Here, guests have the opportunity to engage in a myriad of activities, from hands-on traditional craft workshops to storytelling sessions that unravel the intricate tales woven into the fabric of Rwandan history.
One of the highlights of a visit to Red Rocks is the chance to witness dance performances, engage with local community initiatives, and try your hand at banana beer making or even basket weaving. It is a cultural interaction that leaves you with a deeper appreciation of Rwandan ways of life.
The Center also serves as a hub for eco-tourism, inviting nature enthusiasts to explore the surrounding wonders. Guided tours through the nearby volcanic landscapes, including the awe-inspiring Volcanoes National Park, home to the endangered mountain gorillas, offer a deeper connection to Rwanda’s natural heritage.
Moreover, Red Rocks is not just a place to observe; it’s a space for cultural exchange and collaboration. Visitors are encouraged to actively participate, whether by learning traditional basket weaving techniques, joining in on communal farming activities, or simply engaging in conversations with the warm and welcoming locals.
In-house artists tell their story of Rwanda
At the heart of Red Rocks lies its mission to uplift the local community. Since 2018, after the establishment of Red Rocks Arts Gallery in Kinigi, near the Volcanoes National Park, the Red Rocks Cultural Arts Centre have been the sole visual Arts gallery, promoting painting workshops in the Kinigi village to empower the young talented artisans to get involved in the efforts of conserving the endangered Mountain gorillas through arts and crafts.
A visit to the Red Rocks Cultural Arts Centre is not just a travel experience; it’s an immersion into the soul of Rwanda—a celebration of its people, their resilience, and the vibrant tapestry of traditions that adorn this breathtaking land. A walk around the Centre and Art Gallery provides the opportunity to see artists at work, sharing their stories and the chance to take home some handicrafts or artworks as a souvenir.
Meet the artists
While all Rwandans are encouraged to join in the workshops and utilise the space at the Centre, Red Rocks has some talented resident artists on site. Here we introduce you to those artists and get to know a little about their lives in Rwanda and what brought them to Red Rocks.
My name is MUHAWENIMANA Pauline. I am 46 years old and was born and raised in the Musanze district where I now live with my husband, our 4 children and 1 grandchild. As a local woman living in NKOTSI village, I have practised and taught the local handcraft of basket weaving locally known as ‘kuboha agaseke’ for the past 15 years. I have decided to broaden my horizons alongside fellow women from the villages and we are working together as a cooperative where we are now teaching the handicraft and selling our baskets in the Arts Center to tourists visiting the Red Rocks initiatives. Not only did I improve my hands-on skills and my market but I have also started obtaining new skills like tour guiding and culinary arts as a solution to reach sustainable development.
My name is UZAMUKUNDA Marceline. I am 39 years old and was born and raised in Musanze district in MUKO village, where I live with my husband and our 4 children. Basket weaving is a handicraft that I learnt from my mother and I have always been inspired by how it can bring us together. I lead a cooperative of 20 women from the village in demonstrating cultural preservation by teaching guests and tourists how to create these beautiful baskets, as well as leading community tours to show the Rwandan heritage behind it. With the initiative of expanding my abilities to make sustainable development for me and my family, I have also been trained to be a good chef in Red Rocks Initiatives, tour guiding and blending it with my handicraft.
I am ABAHO Kenneth, I am 33 years old with 1 child, and I have been a self-taught creative artist since I was young. For the last 23 years, I’ve been doing art professionally alongside a team of local children from Musanze. Before this, I worked individually in different towns and schools like FAWE GIRLS SCHOOL in Rwanda but later during the Covid-19 world pandemic, I got to explore different local villages, especially in Musanze, Kinigi, where I developed this inspiration to work along with young kids from the villages as a way of shaping new young artists since they were not going to school. I joined Red Rocks Initiative to create a safe space close to their villages where they can come to learn about painting, sculpture, curving and hands-on skills like bracelet making and more. Teaching local children and sharing them with my gifted talent has been a solution to different problems like creating employment opportunities and also it keeps the kids and youth busy from bad habits and bad morals they can pick if they aren’t doing anything with their time (especially on holidays). It has also improved the living status of the kid’s families because once the kids are perfect artists they can create an income out of the skills they obtain and lead to sustainable development of their homes, villages and also our country.
My name is BAPFAKWITA NYUNGURA Leonard and I am a local artist at Red Rocks Cultural Arts Centre. I am 48 years of age and was born and raised in Musanze district where I live with my family of 3 children. I have been doing art for the past 30 years in painting, sculpture and interior design. I had the opportunity to pursue my career after attending art school since secondary studies. I started creating art pieces at the Red Rocks Initiatives, teaching kids and shaping new artists. I have also been implementing new art projects to promote local artists in Musanze, bringing innovation and new techniques in painting and sculpture for sustainable development, especially in local areas.
My name is HARERA Credo Boris and I am 21 years old. I am a local artist at the Red Rocks Cultural Arts Center. I am a visual artist (painter) by profession who started doing art at an early age with no formal education in arts. I then joined art school for further knowledge and graduated from art school in 2021. I joined Red Rocks Initiatives to practice my art professionally and also to work as a team with fellow local artists. I am now a conservationist and storyteller artist who is seeking more skills now as an undergraduate in year 2 of university, studying architecture and design as I continue to develop my village through art.
My name is NDAYAMBAJE Mohammed locally known as ZULU ART. I am a local artist, 40 years old and was born and raised in the Musanze district. I have been doing art ever since I was 10 years old as a natural talent with no formal education. I have been part of the Red Rocks Initiatives and I work alongside other local artists, teaching them to paint and make artistic sculptures out of clay and other upcycled materials to demonstrate the Rwandan cultural heritage, conservation and community. I have been collaborating in shaping future artists by sharing my knowledge and bringing together the kids from the village to the Arts Center where I teach them about painting and bring out those young talents for change.
My name is ISHEJA Emma Raissa and I am a local artist and a community voice at the Red Rocks Initiatives. I am 23 years old and I started pursuing my passion in community-based tourism in 2018, where I volunteered to bring innovation to the Art Center, specifically in couture by teaching young girls how to sew using local pedalling sewing machines. As a way of creating job opportunities for young women, I also encourage them to expand their knowledge and grab all opportunities that lead to sustainable development. I was also very keen to become a community tour guide and I received training at the Red Rocks Community Art Center. I now work as a translator for the local women’s cooperatives on different tours offered at the campsite and as a voice of the community, I explain and raise awareness on community empowerment, including the local art pieces and ensure interaction between local artists and the guests so they can learn more and also support the community on the journey to sustainable development.