Twenty years ago in Rwanda one of the most ferocious acts of modern ethnic cleansing took place: in 100 days the Hutu population slaughtered around 800,000 of the Tutsi minority and moderate Hutu.
The aftermath of the genocide is a complete restart; the government promotes a policy of reconciliation and nurtures a shared national identity, in contrast to the colonial period when a focus on ethnic difference was encouraged to control the population.
Today half the population of Rwanda are under 20 years old; they are neither Tutsi nor Hutu but simply Rwandan citizens. Education promotes the values of peace, integration and citizenship which are part of the school curriculum.
Travelling to Rwanda in early 2015 with the charity Friends of Rwandan Rugby, I undertook a personal project; making portraits of the children that I met and photographing the school buildings and environments we visited. In this project I am interested in making work that looks forward to Rwanda’s future as embodied in these young people, Rwanda’s new citizens, and in picturing the state schooling infrastructure and other agencies that have been set up since the genocide of 1994. Following further research, I hope to return to Rwanda next year to develop the ideas encountered on a first visit to the country.
— Amanda Harman