From my tree

Igiti, in Kinyarwanda language, means 'from my tree'. The word is often used to express someone's point of view or opinion.

"Years ago, when you were asked your nationality, people would say: 'I am Congolese', or 'I'm coming from Kenya'. Now everyone is so proud to be Rwandan", said Jack Yakubu Nkinzingabo, a photographer from Rwanda.

With this photo story I aim to give a glimpse into the Rwandan recovery of today. I documented the young generation that has been growing after the 1994 genocide to explore and find their place in this rapidly changing country. A generation that moves forward, well aware of the country's past. See from their tree.

 
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Jack Yakubu Nkinzingabo, a young Rwandan photographer, stands on Kigali City Tower, the highest roof in Rwanda's capital city.

"Years ago, when you were asked your nationality, people would say: 'I am Congolese', or 'I'm coming from Kenya'. Now everyone is so proud to be Rwandan."

Yakubu was born in 1994, during the genocide. His father was killed one week after his birth. "Some outside people think the Rwandan are killers, they only think about genocide. But you are now sitting down here as my brother, we look like we are brothers."

Yakubu's photography career was boosted thanks to a camera he received from an American photographer. "I thought: if people from the outside can help me, maybe myself I can help other people from my country that didn't get an opportunity like mine... After I got a job in a magazine I was able to buy books and shoes for 14 kids with the money I got out of photography."

 
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Street scene in downtown Kigali.

According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda: “The size of Rwanda's urban population in 2020 will be 2.5 times greater than its current size. In the next 20 years, the urban population will increase more than 3 times the increase rate of the total population. Rwanda has the highest population density in Africa. The growth rate and size of future youth and working­-age population would pose additional challenges in terms of generating sustainable employment and livelihood opportunities in both urban and rural areas of Rwanda.”

 
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Kevin: "Do you like the smell of ground coffee?"
Me: "Yes, do you?"
Kevin: "I love the smell of ground coffee".

Kevin Aboubson relaxes at a public swimming pool on a week day during his free time. He works at a coffee shop in Kigali.

 
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Akagera, Eastern province.

 
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Hirwa Chris is a Rwandan professional dancer. He teaches dance workshops for people from all backgrounds encouraging them "to take dancing as something that can give a positive message".

"In Africa, especially in my country, people don't believe in dancing. If you can't make money with it, no one will believe in it. They would say: 'dance is for kids'. As the first generation [of pro dancers], we are going to suffer, we are building what it has been missing. People will not believe in us, but in the next ones, of course they will."

Photo: Hirwa Chris in Ntarama village, Eastern province.

 
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Dirt road in Eastern Rwanda.

 
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Kevin Aboubson and friends at Papyrus night bar in Kigali.

 
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Flower blossoms. Northern Rwanda.

 
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Innocent Nkurunziza portrayed in his studio at Inema Art Center, Kigali. Innocent is one of Rwanda's most prominent contemporary artists. His work is inspired by the rhythms of nature, the Rwandan people past and present, and the various textures of this fascinating country.

In 2012, Innocent and his brother Emmanuel founded Inema Art Center in Kigali to create opportunities for artists and help spark Rwanda's still latent art scene. The space showcases young artists trying to sustain themselves through their work, including one gallery dedicated to art created by orphans.

 
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Two men paddle in silence across the Northern Lake Ruhondo. In the background, the extinct volcano Mount Muhabura stands in the mist.

 
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Hirwa Chris in his home, in Nyamirambo neighborhood, Kigali.

Hirwa Chris is a Rwandan professional dancer. He teaches dance workshops for people from all backgrounds aiming "to take dancing as something that can give a positive message".

"In Africa, especially in my country, people don't believe in dancing. If you can't make money with it, no one will believe in it. They would say: 'dance is for kids'. As the first generation [of pro dancers], we are going to suffer, we are building what it has been missing. People will not believe in us, but in the next ones, of course they will."

 
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Dents done by machetes, farming tools and firearms on the floor of Nyamata church, a Genocide Memorial site in Bugesera district.

When the genocide began, many frightened families saw the churches as sacred places of refuge where the killers would not dare to trespass. In April 10th, 1994, aproximately 10.000 civilians were killed inside and around Nyamata church.

 
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Youths rehearsing a play they will perform in the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Rwanda Genocide. Kacyru area, Kigali.

 
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Rwandan President Paul Kagame right before giving the annual speech at the 21st Commemoration of the genocide, at Kigali Genocide Memorial.

Kagame's administration has had the task to rebuild Rwanda from scratch since 1994. The government, nowadays, is generating a big push to position the 'young' Rwanda as a knowledge-based country of reference in East Africa.

Sitting on power for two terms already, Kagame will soon reach to a crossroads in 2017, wether to leave the country's now carefully controlled fate to the next leader or to try to stay in power disregarding the actual constitution. Either way, it will be a new era for the Rwandans.

 
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Hilary Muramira runs REtronics, a company making small scale egg incubators that they hope will jump start Rwanda’s nascent poultry industry. The ultimate goal is to reduce the relatively high cost of eggs and chicken so that they can become mainstream.

According to Muramira, the incubators use circuitry that helps control temperature levels and boost hatch yields. They are currently working to incorporate SMS capabilities so that farmers can, for example, receive a text message when their incubator looses power and the hatch is threatened.

 
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Land workers. Downtown Kigali in the background.

In a still largely rural country, the capital Kigali is at the center of Rwanda’s push to build a knowledge-based economy.

 
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Lilian Uwintwali walking through drying maize in Impabaruta cooperative. Lilian created a health care app and now she is developping one to improve Rwanda's maize seed industry. Southern province, Rwanda.

 
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Hubert Tuyishime, 20, finding out that he received a full scholarship to study in Harvard university, United States. B2R Training Centre, Kigali.

 
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People in downtown Kigali head towards their homes at the end of the day.

 
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Clouds floating in the last lights of the day somewhere over Rwanda's North East