‘When we were coming into land, we just saw greenery. Outside the airport it was really clean and mad quiet. We were seeing palm trees and I thought, I’m sure they based Wakanda off of this place.’
Ibrahim Kamara is laughing, but he’s also being earnest. In November last year, a three-day, whistle-stop trip from London to Rwanda saw him and GUAP Co-Founder Jide Adetunji landing in Kigali, the country’s capital.
They’d previously travelled to Accra, Ghana for their first Africa-focused documentary, but this time around, they pointed their lens at an East African city. People’s Stories Project spoke with Ibrahim in January this year, just as he and his collective were considering formats for what is now a production-ready doc.
PSP: Why did you choose Rwanda this time?
Ibrahim: We wanted to go somewhere in east Africa. We’d thought about Kenya and Zambia, but then ruled out Kenya because it was too big. There were too many stories documenting creatives, so we wanted a challenge. We put out Rwanda to our networks, and people shared a few creatives with us. We found out that Kigali was safe, and clean, so we thought yeah, let’s go there.
PSP: Who did you travel with?
Ibrahim: It was me, Jide and our friend Elsie who does illustration. She was helping us behind the scenes. We’d said we were going so she booked a ticket with us.
PSP: Compared with Ghana, what was this shorter experience like?
Ibrahim: Everything in Kigali is much newer. They’re not far behind but they’ve got a long way to go. One thing that was more interesting in Rwanda actually, is that they don’t have a creative community. The creatives might know each other, but they don’t work together, or they might have never actually met each other in person.
PSP: Who were some of creatives you met?
Ibrahim: A comic book creator Mika Hirwa, a model called Neza Rachel, Sister Circle who are a female empowerment collective, dancer Bobo Elvis, a chef and others.
PSP: How would you sum up the experience?
Ibrahim: It was very eye-opening. When we went to Ghana I though, they’ve lied to us – you know, Africa has arrived. But then, when in Kigali I realised that even with Africa’s problems, with colonisation and with Rwanda having this massive war that happened around the time we were born, to see how much they’ve developed from that and to think that there were people living there that we probably walked past that lived through that trauma… it was just crazy.
PSP: So you made time to go to the genocide museum?
Ibrahim: It’s one of those things you kind of have to do. I think there’s six genocide museums in the country. There are remains of 250,000 people just in the Kigali one. That’s part of around a million people who died in that short space of time [three months in 1994]. It was even mad to think that the Hutus just turned on the Tutsis. Some of them were friends and neighbours and then literally, boom… Then you realise that this was all started because Belgians wanted to take stuff from that country and were pitting people against each other. I even read that only two countries in Africa weren’t colonised. Liberia and Ethiopia. After the museum it was just like…tearful. I think we have to put some of that info in the doc because it’s wild…
PSP: And what now, after this latest documentary focus?
Ibrahim: We want to do more in other African countries. This is part of an umbrella series, but we’ll also do similar things across other international communities.
IN: RWANDA is released from 6pm on Friday 10th April on the GUAP YouTube channel.