Project type //
Participatory communal design and spatial action
July - September 2017
Kiziba refugee camp, Rwanda // September 2017
Nerea Amoros Elorduy, Lloyd Price, Joan Amoros Elorduy, Moses Mawa, Victor Iyakaremye and Lydia Kanakulya
Group of refugee parents, ECD caregivers, members of the Youth Arts Centre
Imigongo Cooperative from Rwanda’s Eatsern province, Kayonza
Inhabitants of Kiziba, especially those participating in the mural making workshop, the children and adults attending and working at the Maternal at quarter four and the neighbours of the small play area by the market at quarter two.
The Imigongo mural-making technique stems from what is now Rwanda’s Eastern province. In the early nineteenth century, King Karira decorated his own hut-palace with this technique that uses the dung of young calves mixed with ash to create relief on the wall’s surface, which is later painted with mud, lime and burnt aloe vera. After the Rwandan genocide, the technique practically disappeared.
In the Congolese refugee camps in Rwanda, many families already use mud and natural pigments (both materials used in the imigongo) to decorate the interiors – and sometimes the exteriors – of their homes, many even replicate or imitate the traditional Rwandan imigongo designs. These refugees are mostly Banyarwanda that emigrated into Eastern DR Congo at the end of the nineteenth century and naturalised. They speak Kinyarwanda and share several common traditions and culture.
The site selection process for the murals was a joint effort between the refugee participants, architecture fellows and NGO workers. The team decided that the murals should raise awareness and trigger the development of Child-Friendly Spaces (CFS) around the camp. The two locations chosen for the imigongo murals were the maternelle in quarter four and space close to the market located in quarter two.
On the first set of murals, the children, caregivers, parents and artisans choose the themes, the different designs and their organization on the walls. On the second site, the neighbours of the site selected the designs that would go on their homes’ walls from a set of traditional Imigongo designs. Once the murals had been completed, the caregivers at the Maternelle began to plant flowers around the murals and the majority of the neighbours around the second site used some of the remaining materials and sought for help from the imigongo artisans to paint the interiors of their homes as well.
The design and production of the murals were sessions of active and creative activities with parents, community mobilisers, caregivers and children. From these conversations further understanding of what participants thought of arts and crafts as a tool to create child-friendly spaces.