‘3,000 Years of History Are Literally Just Beneath Our Feet’: The Landscape & People of the DRC
Kasumbala, Rwanda, is a charming place to be at the moment. It’s the birthplace of a new international school (although, it has been known to suffer severe bouts of insecurity, as recently saw an attempted kidnapping of the principal). Across the road from this bright and breezy new, well-furnished new building, you can find the remains of an old Rwandan compound, which is now completely gone.
As well as having the impressive new school and a few surviving fragments of the old, Kasumbala has been a hub of economic activity for some time now. Its location, close to Kigali, was a prime location for farmers to bring their goods and their produce to market. The country has the highest literacy rate in the country, as well as the highest GDP per capita (of any African country).
Today, Kasumbala is also home to the largest and best-preserved collection of pre-colonial African art in the world. It is perhaps not surprising that the main draw in Kasumbala is its spectacular array of historical structures – most are now empty and falling to pieces, but still visible in their original colours, shapes, and textures.
Most of these structures still have a distinctly Rwandan feel to them, but with the passage of time, they have been gradually abandoned, or altered to resemble a variety of buildings from across the whole of Africa. This makes the town particularly interesting.
‘I always thought that Kasumbala was a town where I would never be able to find anything,’ says Jocelyn, an Africanist (and a keen photographer!). ‘Once I started looking at the buildings, I realised that it’s much more than a mere town. That’s when I really fell in love with it.’
Jocelyn has done much more than simply fall in love. Having previously spent 12 years living in Kasumbala before leaving home in her early twenties, she has been there since the very first day. She had never visited Rwanda before, and now that she is there, she has a particular