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King Ngabo uses art to preserve the memory of the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi


In order to pay tribute to the victims of the devastating 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, one powerful way is to cherish tangible mementos that can bridge the gap between the past and the present. Photographs, in particular, possess the extraordinary ability to bring the departed closer, offering a tangible connection despite their physical absence.

However, the tragic nature of the genocide poses a significant challenge. The systematic extermination of people and the deliberate destruction of their remains has left behind a scarcity of evidence. Locating any form of proof of their existence has become an arduous task, as the cruelty of the genocide has left little trace of their lives.

There are fortunate individuals who, by the grace of God, have managed to discover old photographs or even pictures of their loved ones captured alongside other people.

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A restored photograph brings the presence of lost loved ones back to life

Although these images hold immense sentimental value, their significance as constant reminders becomes complicated. The presence of other individuals in these pictures makes it challenging to exclusively preserve them as personal mementos.

Even amidst the complexities and hardships, the power of these photographs endures, serving as poignant reminders of lives lost and a call to honor their memory. They bear witness to the resilience of the human spirit and the enduring need to remember and learn from the past, ensuring that the voices of the victims are never silenced.

The book launch of “Transmitting Memories in Rwanda” by Irakoze Clever became a profoundly moving event for all in attendance. The impact of the photographs included in the book, showcasing the writer’s parents who tragically lost their lives in the genocide, was undeniable. As a poignant gesture, Irakoze presented the picture to his siblings, culminating in an intensely emotional moment that resonated with everyone present.

iyi foto buri wese yari ari ukwe mu bantu benshi ariko hakoreshejwe ubugeni bongeye guhurizwa hamwe ku ifoto 1
A poignant moment as siblings are presented with photograph (Drawing) of their parents

One individual, in particular, found tears welling up in their eyes upon encountering the photograph. This experience is a testament to the profound effect that visual representations can have, stirring deep emotions within each and every person.

Their Parents were killed in the genocide, leaving them without any tangible remnants of their existence, as their family home had been completely destroyed.

The author’s sibling, who was a child at the time of the horrific 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, had no recollection of their parent’s faces. Although it is challenging for them to articulate the depth of their emotions, the sadness they carry is evident to all.

In recent years, Irakoze Clever had a significant encounter that would profoundly impact his journey. He received a photograph from someone that featured a multitude of individuals, including his own mother and father.

However, despite sharing this photograph, it failed to evoke any deep emotions within him. The absence of a personal connection hindered its ability to stir the depths of his soul.

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These young people draw from existing pictures or descriptions

During Irakoze’s work on his book, a remarkable initiative called “Art For Memories” was spearheaded by King Ngabo. This project aimed to provide support to those who had lost their loved ones in the genocide, enabling them to preserve cherished memories. It became a beacon of hope for individuals seeking solace amidst the profound pain of loss.

In the course of this project, a remarkable discovery awaited Irakoze. He stumbled upon a photograph featuring his late father and mother among many others. Recognizing the immense potential for healing and remembrance, King Ngabo collaborated with a collective of talented artists.

Together, they embarked on a mission to recreate a profoundly meaningful moment by placing Irakoze’s parents together in one photograph. This act of artistic collaboration aimed to grant the children the opportunity to witness a powerful image of their deceased parents united once more.

To date they have produced more than 100 pictures

This heartfelt initiative brought immense joy to the writer’s siblings as, after 29 years, they were able to witness the presence of their parent’s memory. It’s not just this family; many others face the issue of lacking evidence about their loved ones.

This intervention is a testament to the artist’s talent and commitment to helping and easing the pain of those who lost their loved ones.

In our conversation with King Ngabo, he said, “This is my humble attempt to bring back the presence of those who were killed in the genocide. Today, we have people who are living without any evidence, and some have a single photo that represents their entire family. We use the talent given to us by God to provide them with solace.”

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These efforts produce powerful images honoring those who perished in the genocide

Their efforts focus on enhancing a photo that lacks clarity or where a person is present among others, offering a clear image that can be cherished.

King Ngabo was born after the genocide, so one may wonder how he has a connection to this history. He explains that he uses art to rebuild what was destroyed during the genocide.

He says, “I adopt art as another form of knowledge that God has bestowed upon us to communicate or express ourselves well. These things are deeply rooted in history, and I am aware of the artistry involved in the genocide.”

“Today, many survivors face the challenge of not having evidence because it was extensively used during those times. As a survivor born after the genocide, it is my responsibility to take part. This is the purpose of our art, to heal the wounds of survivors.”

To this day, King Ngabo has collaborated with other talented artists and has produced about 100 photographs that portray those who were killed in the genocide against the Tutsi. Their aim is to provide evidence of their existence and they do this free of cost.

King Ngabo collaborates with talented artists to preserve cherished memories of those lost in the genocide
King Ngabo’s photographs offer solace and evidence of existence to survivors who lack tangible remnants
King Ngabo’s artistic vision immortalizes the memory of the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi

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