The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Museum Gets WW1 Memorabilia

The Institute of National Museums of Rwanda (INMR) yesterday received, from the Germany Embassy, some memorabilia which were used on Rwandan soil during World War I.

The materials, which comprise lorry wheels weighing 250kgs each, were used in 1914 during the war between Belgians and Germans over the Ruanda-Urundi colony and will be up for exhibition at Natural History Museum in Kigali

They are accompanied with movie clips of Rwandan soldiers fighting alongside Europeans.

According to Alphonse B. Umulisa, the director general of INMR, this historical patrimony was found buried near the Rubavu Airstrip in Rubavu district, Western Province.

Umulisa said Dr Reinhart Bindseil, the first Germany ambassador to Rwanda, had in 1959 kept them and before leaving, entrusted them with Deutsch Welle, a German relay station located in Kinyinya sector, Gasabo district in Kigali.

"In 2011, a German lawyer in Kigali called me and said he wanted to grant us the material he bought from traders who recycle metals," disclosed Umulisa.

The INMR official said they have identified these wheels while reading the books of Dr Reinhart.

A part from these spare parts, INMR is planning to retrieve an England war ship in Rubengera, Karongi district in Western Province at the bank of Lake Kivu, where, according to the INMR director, England soldiers from Uganda joined the combat between Germans and Belgians during World War I.

The INMR director reveals that they have also found a 6-door black Benz belonging to former President Habyarimana which they will buy from its current owner in Kanombe, Kicukiro district.

The official appealed to whoever may be in possession of any historical items to take them to the museum.

Environmental museum

Meanwhile' INMR will soon open doors to the Environment Museum.

The museum, the first of its kind is being built in Byishyura Sector, Karongi district in the Western Province.

"This museum will be the best in Africa. It is important for the continent because it is based on the environment," said Umuliisa.

He explained that it was being built in collaboration with the Natural Environment Museum based in Mainz, Germany.

The Museum whose construction began in 2010 is expected to be completed in late February and exhibitions will be showcased as early as March.

According to the project manager, Jean Safari, the museum will have a rooftop garden to display various herbs.

"The first exhibition proposed will be on Energy - and the role energy plays in a changing environment," said Safari.

INMR is targeting an increase of visitors from 150,000 to more than 600,000 in the coming years by exhibiting many more items of Rwandan history in its six museums around the country.

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