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KIGALI, Rwanda — Born in Burundi and raised in Rwanda, the artist Bruce Niyonkuru has never traveled outside East Africa, but he believes his works have universal appeal.

The artist’s recent piece, “Young Talented Artists’ Dilemma” (2013) is a colorful painting depicting the faces — some fat, some thin, one crying and from a variety of angles — of artists he has known over the years. It is a work that he hopes communicates the daily struggles that artists in Rwanda face.

“When I started painting, I did not have money to even buy materials, and I did not know of any place to help me grow my talent,” said Mr. Niyonkuru, 21. “In Rwanda, society does not see being an artist as a profession. Most people think I am jobless and I am just painting for fun.” Read more

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For the past 20 years, Rwanda’s image has been dominated by scenes of genocide and civil war. However, with its tourism sector now thriving, and areas such as ICT, banking and energy set to follow suit, Rwanda is poised to become Africa’s newest success story. Ginanne Brownell reports.

It is the smell that hits you first – a pungent, gamey combination of wet fur, urine and dead cedar – and about five beats afterwards, they materialise out of the dense jungle greenery, munching and plodding along over the muddied underbrush, swinging from the vines and tumbling over each other in careless abandon. Read more

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The three young boys and the older man are standing around, looking awkward but fierce at the same time–their eyes  tough as nails. “Who are those men,” I ask as we head into the main building at the Mutobo Demobilization Center. “They have just been brought in today from the jungle,” said the head of the center, which is located  near Rwanda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s a strange surreal thing to come face to face with men–and a few women–who have been living in the jungle for 15 years, eeking out a living as members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and fighting against the Congolese army, the UN peacekeepers and theCongolese Tutsi rebels. Read more

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If anybody has a story to rap about, it’s hip-hop artist K’Naan. Born in Mogadishu, the Somali rapper (real name: Kanaan Warsame) fired his first AK-47 at the age of 8; at 11 he blew up half his school when he accidentally detonated a hand grenade. By the time he and his mother fled Somalia in 1991, he had already seen three of his friends shot dead. The family settled in Toronto, where the young refugee learned English partially through rap songs. He released his first album in 2002, and his follow-up, Troubadour, to wide acclaim last year; its single “Wavin’ Flag” has been chosen as the official anthem of this year’s World Cup, to be held in June in South Africa, and will be featured in Coca-Cola ads that will play in 150 countries. Addressing the issues of poverty and political freedom, the song blends African and Western pop with rock and rap, in the style known as Afropop. “With my experiences and where I come from, the sounds and melodies that speak to me, I could not possibly put all that into the narrow idea of music popular in the West,” says K’Naan. “I felt I needed to bring all my experiences together, put them in a pot and serve them like that.” Read more