Last night, I watched a play dubbed Generation 25. It was staged at the Kigali Genocide Memorial’s amphitheatre. This powerful performance addressed a topic that makes our discussions uncomfortable. It served as an alternative communication avenue enabling the youth to open up and engage in conversations deemed difficult.
This is the latest masterpiece from Mashirika Performing Arts and Media Company. I have been a huge fan of Mashirika since its creation in 1997. For over two decades, the company has been transforming raw talents into marketable skills while educating the world.
Some of the most moving performers this country has ever had, including Malaika Uwamahoro and Honorable Edouard Bamporiki were groomed by Mashirika. Brains behind this initiative use art as a tool for social transformation and creation of jobs.
Art forms an integral part of our cultural heritage. It is encouraging to see the youth engineering the resurgence of this effective medium of communication.
The first phase of the play saw Mashirika collaborating with artists from the United Kingdom and Argentina. The second phase will bring on board artists from the United States. This production is sponsored by the government through the Ministry of Youth, the British Council and AEGIS.
In a panel discussion that took place after the play, one character namely Didier shared his experiences growing up in a family made up of survivors on his mother’s side and perpetrators on his father’s side. He was raised by his surviving mother’s side of the family and didn’t meet his father until he was 14 years old. Under unfortunate circumstances, he was born and raised in the absence of his fugitive father who had fled the country in an attempt to escape justice.
Didier shared the stage with Vanessa, a young girl who lost her nuclear family and almost her entire extended family. Both characters represent innocent children of Rwanda dealing with the trauma of the aftermath of the genocide.
Generation 25 is the voice of children left behind by victims and those belonging to perpetrators of the genocide. In addition, the play reminds us that some of the victims of rape during the genocide bore children who are also struggling to come to terms with their situations.
Vanessa is consoled by the fact that she doesn’t have to face her challenges alone. She has a bigger family of a unified nation and a broad shoulder to cry on. Didier on the other hand, is determined to create awareness and help those who share his background.
The group performed in an assortment of languages, further showcasing Kigali’s multicultural and cosmopolitan outlook. Numerous viewers reflecting a rainbow of diversity showed up. In her opening remarks, Mashirika’s founder Hope Azeda admitted that she didn’t expect such a big audience.
Through art, these passionate young people are working together to instil positive change into the society and contribute to the shaping of a better future. Their level of adeptness in music, dance, drama, body language and poetry left me speechless.