From May to the beginning of November 2017, Rwanda Arts Initiative (RAI) invited the East-African public in Kigali – thanks to Africalia’s support – to explore Africa’s musical heritage. The “Great Black Music” exhibition tells the story of African cultures through music and a rich collection of audiovisual documents.
From May 12 and until November 3, 2017, Great Black Music was presented in the Rwandan capital city. It already travelled through Europe and in the western and southern parts of the African continent when RAI – Rwanda Arts Initiative – decided to show this innovating project to East Africa for the first time. It is in Kigali public library that the public has been invited to explore its music culture.
This project was originally founded on a desire to show this important facet of black immaterial culture : its music. The exhibition is articulated around hundreds of sound and audio-visual documents so as to completely immerge the visitors into a sensory experience. The use of smartphones and headphones allows it to be interactive and for everyone to progress according to his own pace. The show portrays how influential African sonorities have been in the general history of music, from jazz to hip hop, blues, funk, reggae music and much more… They have been a source of inspiration for generations and still are omnipresent in popular cultures.
The curator, Marc Benaïche has meant to highlight the difference between the persistent ideas about African music in Europe and the US, “where they are confined in traditional music perceptions”, and the reality of this music, contemporary and innovating. He wants to enable the visitors to free themselves from misconceptions about black music and to appreciate its variety.
This exhibition was presented at the right time for Rwanda. The cultural sector of the country has been gaining credibility and importance in the past few years. Moreover, Africalia is committed to support cultural projects like this one that embrace the infinity of possibilities opened by the digital world.
Aside from the exhibition, several workshops have been organised for stage technicians, DJs or digital application developers. Those pedagogical activities, along with a number of guided tours have punctuated the exhibition program. The ongoing show has been a convenient pretext for education, and awareness-raising about the digital media, especially in a country that makes the topic one of its priorities.