10 February 2017

Rwanda: CNLG Starts Conservation of Artifact of Genocide Victims

Photo: Michel Nkurunziza/New Times
The US Ambassador to Rwanda, Erica Barks-Ruggles (R), CNLG Executive Secretary Jean-Damascene Bizimana (2ndR), the director of research and documentation center at CNLG, Dr Jean Damascene Gasanabo, and US Embassy's Fund for Cultural Preservation officials look at some of the clothes of Genocide victims at at Nyamata Genocide Memorial Site.

The National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) has begun conserving clothing worn by Genocide victims.

With the help of nearly $87,000 from the US Embassy's Fund for Cultural Preservation, CNLG this week started preserving clothing worn by Genocide victims at the Nyamata Genocide memorial in Bugesera District.

The grant was given to Nyamata Memorial Centre to be used for training and artifact conservation.

The Genocide Artifact Conservation Project will conserve clothing from the remains of 45,000 Genocide victims at the Nyamata memorial site, and later other sites across the country.

During a tour, yesterday, CNLG Executive Secretary Jean-Damascène Bizimana and US Ambassador to Rwanda Erica Barks-Ruggles assessed the progress of the conservation activities.

The conservation and documentation process is complex and could take from six to 12 months, said Martin Umuhoza, the Genocide proof and testimonies conservation specialist at CNLG.

The first step is carried out by machines called "tumblers," which gently remove the outer layers of soil and separate the items of clothing. This process removes large debris, dirt, embedded hunks of soil and bones from the clothing.

After tumbling, the clothes are vacuumed and treated to kill off microbes, preparing them for long-term storage.

The clothes are then put in a climate-controlled plastic box.

The clothes are packaged with chemical 'drying beans,' which last up to 20 years and reduce the level of humidity. The stored clothing will be monitored for the right level of humidity and for dust control, said Umuhoza.

At each step of the process, he said, workers document the artifacts by taking digital photos of each piece of clothing and storing them in a digital Nyamata Genocide Clothing Inventory.

Experts from the University of Pennsylvania, US, spent the last week training CNLG staff on artifact preservation methods, said Bizimana, who added that he was grateful for the support of the US embassy.

"This will help preserve the memory of Genocide," he said.

Dr Bizimana said the artifact should last at least 60 years.

The process involves adding chemicals to protect the clothing from bacteria, insects, humidity and dust, which can degrade them; if the chemicals are applied regularly, the items should last even longer - up to 200 years.

Bizimana said another project is underway to conserve Genocide remains. The CNLG team is working with the University of Hamburg in Germany on training and support for this project, which will be tested at the Murambi Genocide memorial and involves different skills from those of preserving artifact.


Kigali to Host Headquarters of African Arbitration Association

Rwanda was this week selected to host of headquarters of the newly created African Arbitration Association (AfAA). Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2017 The New Times. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.