When They Sang at Me I Sang Back
AIMPO in Rwanda and Next Level Projects in England are embarking on a collaborative endeavor to transform recordings of the Batwa community’s songs into captivating visual art representations. The Batwa community, recognized as the Indigenous inhabitants of Africa’s Great Lakes Region, faces multifaceted discrimination and marginalization. Their ancestral territories have been profoundly affected by evictions and national park designations, while a “de-ethnicization” campaign in Rwanda further diminishes their visibility. Recognizing the immense cultural significance of songs within the Batwa community, this project aims to underscore their value and address the challenges surrounding copyright protection. Introducing a pioneering media type called audio photography, the project seeks to foster the integration of the Batwa population into society and combat discrimination. Emphasizing the core principles of equality, diversity, and inclusion, the project fosters critical thinking, nurtures an understanding of political and historical contexts, and amplifies marginalized narratives. Furthermore, the project delves into the songs as an artistic practice, exploring how they have been shaped by cultural constructs and artistic aesthetics. By acknowledging and honouring the contributions of Batwa creatives, including women and disabled individuals, the project endeavours to document and share experiences through holistic and spatial modes. Capitalizing on the power of social media as a tool for artistic expression and political engagement, the project strives to effect meaningful change.