The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda Museums - Our Heritage, Proof of Past

Managing the memory of defeat in a post-conflict society is a difficult task that affects not only personal but also the national identity.

The very idea is that human memory is influenced by a variety of factors- one of which is derived from a social arena in which humans are situated when they remember the past.

Collective memories in our museums shape the reality that enables people to imagine the world in which we live. Therefore;

As custodians of the cultural soul, Rwanda Museums show leadership in the promotion of culture and the heritage as true mirrors of a nation.

The history of museums world over dates back to 3rd century B.C, and over the years, the museum culture has spread to nearly every part of the world.

It has become uncommon to find any country without a museum no matter how small it may be. Why? Because of the relevance impacted on the ground.

Rwanda's cultural and natural heritage development for, and by local communities through museums has the potential to heighten the need for people concerned to define sources of cultural identity that can be expressed as a sense of belonging, calling for the need to increase our awareness of the profound importance of our heritage.

One thing we must agree on as a country is that, preserving heritage is indispensable to having a distinctive identity and cultural memory.

Memory is a crucial source of history as a reasoned reconstruction of the past rooted in research that is key to survival for what we live with today and what we pass onto future generations.

Our lives and values call upon us as Rwandans to care about people who we will never meet.

"Our cultural and natural heritages are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspirational"-(UNESCO, world heritage centre, 2010).

Traditionally, museum's collections are of cultural, religious, and historical importance, well preserved and researched into and open to the public for purpose of education and enjoyment.

However, unlike the early museums that were elitist that only encouraged educated people to visit, today, public archaeology has focused and sustained clamour for more openness, pragmatic and collective involvement in dealing with issues that impact communities and nations.

And as we speak now, in our modern societies museums do not address a defined audience as schools do, but issue an invitation to a broad public to come and enjoy.

This break off trend from the old tradition has become more necessary and indeed urgent for museums to redefine their missions, goals, functions and strategies to reflect the expectations of a changing world.

Museums have become agents of change and development; they mirror events in the society and become instruments of progress by calling attention to actions and events that encourages development in societies.

Our world is troubled in many ways today and peace is threatened so often because people do not understand their neighbours.

The filtering of peace by promoting ideals of democracy, transparency and good governance in the communities is paramount and must be part of a bigger community that they serve and reach out to every group in the society as it is essential for happiness and joy in the family, community, society, nation and the world.

Now, more interestingly, for people to live in peace and happiness there must be unity as well. Promote unity in the society by using their resources to ensure understanding and appreciation of the various groups that exist in that society.

The history of man world over and how humanity has survived its environment over the years is portrayed in museums by preserving things created by nature and by man.

These unique resources are used and handled with care to become more responsive to dynamics of modern and urban change by retaining their relevance to become positive partners in the development of our societies.

History is the only means that makes sense of our past in the present with that kind of emotional expression that should bind us together and be linked to a place.

As we come closer and interact freely with the past, museum education becomes more interesting as they bring students into contact with the abstract form of what they learn in school.

It's a good source of research and a major tourism attraction hence boasting the country's economy through the Materials and information that can, if used in enriching and improving the school curriculum in various disciplines.

Therefore as we tackle problems of Rwandan society through our museums endowed with exhibitions that are typical and challenging, with more innovativeness, people oriented, community minded, program-oriented, and professionally solid well trained personnel and above all children friendly, the process of nation building will be largely based on history, culture, a shared past and invented traditions.

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