Inema Arts Center

Founded and directed by Emmanuel Nkuranga and Innocent Nkurunziza, Inema Arts Center is defined by its gallery space and its arts programs for children.  I found this arts center to be such a lively place. The interior walls – including the stairwell – are covered with paintings and mixed media works: those by various of the ten resident artists and an entire gallery of the children’s works. There is the workshop on the ground level and a coffee shop and patio – it’s a gathering place. And there are works all over the grounds to enjoy, with which to engage, that spark imagery and connectivity of spirit. On the street side of the building is a large mural with President Kigali’s portrait and words that both inspire and lead.

Inema bldg.Paul Kagame mural
















I was also taken with the wire sculpture that greeted us on entrance. For all its durable materials, there was something so very humanly malleable about it; so very inviting.

Inema sign












And, this figure is in a position that I inhabit – and often see inhabited – in the dancing that I do, and have grown up with artistically. It felt familiar.

mission    Art with a mission.

There is a balcony on the second level from which one can reach into the city as it climbs the hills and out of view.

view from second story gallery

The Inema artists provide experiences for emerging artists in African Arts, Crafts, Music and Dance. We had the privilege of interacting with young dancers and drummers: they introduced us to their cultural dance and drumming, and then pulled us out into the common space to teach us a short sequence. I worked with a small master who took a firm grip on both of my hands, held them wide apart from one another, and kept me in motion so that I could “hear” and follow the rhythm of his steps.

This is my teacher in his solo dance.

my teacher in solo

And these are the musicians/artist teachers – with whom he was working and his dancing crew.


After a long game of water bottle balancing with Emmanuel – flip a partially filled water bottle and try to lay your weight into just so, so that the bottle lands upright – I was reminded of how far play – and laughter – and some small measure of competition goes in settling into the common ground necessary to form a friendship. This photo was near the beginning of the action; Irené had not yet jointed the fray. By the end, we were all circled around, cheering on the contestants! Emmanuel was – hands down (bottles up?) – the champ. But Michael and Irené gave it their all, with gusto.


I bought a painting by a young artist named Vincent who studies in the Inema program. I fell in love with it because it is motion-based.


We gathered with Emmanuel and Innocent just before departing. This is an extraordinary place created, developed and run with such vision. our group with Inema founders



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s