|PANEL 1: Contributions of Civil Society|
|Director, Kwetu Film Institute (Rwanda)|
Mr. Kabera is the founder of Kwetu Film Institute, a regional film, TV, arts and media school based in Kigali, Rwanda. Many films including the one on the Rwandan genocide 100 Days and multiple documentaries and shorts specializing on the Great Lakes region and Rwanda have been acclaimed in prestigious international film festivals. Eric Kabera also founded the Rwanda Cinema Centre (RCC) in 2001 with the intention of training and facilitating filmmaking in Rwanda. Eric Kabera made his studies in psychology, pedagogy and law. After a training offered by Reuters Foundation in London, he became a radio journalist for 3 years with the national broadcaster and a freelancer for the Africa Section of the BBC.
ERIC KABERA, Director and Founder of the Kwetu Film Institute based in Rwanda, presented in his speech the three main priorities of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as his experience as a filmmaker. Mr. Kabera started his remarks by reflecting on the fast growth rate of Africa in the recent years. He reassured the audience that the Africa is no longer allowing others to define it as an exotic and wild place only for safaris and charity. Mr. Kabera said that such image of everlasting wars, displacements, and hungry children have been prejudicial to Africa. Mr. Kabera said, “Today Africa is claiming its space” while he was discussing the first priority of the Sustainable Development Goals: building knowledge and accessing education. He explained the role that the digital revolution has had in helping Africans stand at the same platform as the rest of the world where they can communicate, claim their identity, share ideas, and be conscious citizens.
In addressing the second priority of SDGs: shaping a people-centered and earth-friendly economic vision, Kabera pointed out how telephone penetration in Africa is increasing rapidly as it offers Africans the opportunity to perform mobile banking, e-marketing, e-payments and money transfer. He also added that linking farmers and small-scale manufacturers to all factors of production (markets, skills, and financial avenues) has increased financial penetration and unlocked the productivity of the private sector, especially for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). Mr. Kabera also indicated how animal and plant species in Africa are frequently exposed to abuse and exploitation.
He started discussing the third priority of SDGs, organizing for Human Rights and Peace, by defining democracy and good governance to be catalyzers for human rights and peace. Mr. Kabera said that people in Africa are becoming more politically aware, and he supported this claim by alluding to the Arab spring, the up-rise in Burkina-Faso, the social activism in Senegal, the DRC and now in Burundi. Kabera proposed that the widespread of social media in Africa has enabled Africans to organize, agitate and claim their rights; thus, “It is becoming increasingly risky and precarious to be a dictator in Africa.”
In his reflection on his experience as a filmmaker, Kabera stated that women in Rwanda are empowered and are taking the lead in producing independent films, music, theatre and fine arts. He expressed that his incentive to enter the world of cinema was his frustration to see Africa through Western lenses where the desire to make profits led to a piecemeal portrayal of the African history, condition, and other nations’ self-glorification. The films that Kabera produced have been at the forefront of telling the Rwandan story to the world in a respectable and dignified manner. Following his experience as a filmmaker, Kabera decided to set up the first film and TV school in Rwanda, as well as the Kwetu Film Institute to allow the youth to embark on this journey of telling the story of Africa. In conclusion, Kabera reflected on the role of the African youth in taking ownership of Africa’s identity, image, and story. With a great access to media, Kabera says, “The African youth is now writing its own history; contributing to how Africa is shown to the rest of the world.”