Wang Rum Lai ‘s finished products comprise of dolls and toys. (Photo. D umutesi)

The Chinese New Year celebrations were held at Serena Hotel Kigali in “Muhazi” Hall on January 18th, 2012. The event was graced with various activities that portrayed the exciting Chinese culture that included acrobatics, dance and an art show.

The event also included the end of the 40th Anniversary celebrations of the Establishment of China-Rwanda Diplomatic relations.

According to Alphonse Bartson Umullisa, Director of the Institute of National Museums Rwanda, Chinese artists will be invited to participate in the International Arts and culture exhibition to be held on May 18th, 2012.

“Although our culture is reasonably different from the Chinese, there is a similarity in their art such as pottery. There is a lot that we can pick from their artistic skills and vice versa,” Umullisa explains.

He further adds that Pottery, being one of the oldest forms of art in Rwanda, has survived the test of time.

“Pottery benefits several Rwandans in every aspect. Positive results will be witnessed if we integrate our skills with other cultures,” Umuliisa emphasizes.

Rwandan pottery art is competitive both on the local and international market.

Kevin Kagirimpundu, the Managing Director of Umuranga Art Studio, said that the integration of Rwandan art with other cultures is a great idea.

“Integration of our artistic cultural skills with that of another culture is amazing because a connection is created that strengthens the relationship between the countries,” Kagirimpundu said.

She also said that the market for the art products is widened and hence increases the income generated by local artists.

“Sharing artistic skills from one culture to another also promotes cultural exchange and this comes with great benefits,” Kagirimpundu explains.

In an Interview with The New Times, Wang Rum Lai, an artist, acknowledges Rwanda’s hospitality as a prerequisite to a strong culture.

“Communication has been my biggest challenge seeing as my English is hazy, but I feel welcome here. Rwanda’s hospitality is similar to ours. The people here are really calm and welcoming,” Wang says.

Wang Rum Lai came to Rwanda for the New Year celebrations to portray his artistic skills by showcasing his sculptured dolls and toys.

“Doll sculpturing is something I have been doing for the last 40 years. I didn’t get it from my forefathers; I attained serious training from a tutor,” Wang discloses.

He adds that he uses different material from China.

“It takes about a month to complete a big- sized doll. This includes carving, modeling, drying and painting,” Wang explains.

Dolls and toys are a relic of several eras and they portray a folk of customs. Chinese folk dolls have a long history and they carry a profound cultural significance. Sculpturing the dolls requires various material including cloth, silk, clay and even rare traditional Chinese medicine.

According to Xu Xiau Wei, a Chinese contractor at a construction company, Rwanda’s culture differs from the Chinese especially when it comes to food.

“I have been here for the last four months and I’m still trying to adjust to the food.  In china we eat more vegetables than beef which is what is on every menu here,” Xu Xiau said.

He insists that he is willing to learn the Rwandan cultural traits.

By Doreen Umutesi, The New Times

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