The Ageing Journey of Rwandans: Stigma Power and Hopes, Artist Residency

Applications are now closed

Applications Are Now Closed!

The Rwanda Cultural Heritage Academy and the University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) are organising the second edition of the Stigma, Power and Hope residency at the Rwanda Arts Museum from March to August 2022. The two institutions invite Rwandan artists to reflect on older people’s mental health and the bond between generations in a transformed society.

“Mental, neurological and behavioural disorders are common to all countries and cause immense suffering”, populations in low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected. Existing historical inequities partially cause this disproportion, still affecting countries and other social injustices generating stigma and gaps in access to treatment. The proven cyclical relationship between mental health, inclusion, poverty and the other social determinants of health provides crucial keys to analysing and understanding the crisis faced in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Since 2019, the University of Global Health Equity has brought artists, scholars, and health professionals to contribute to the global reflection on the mechanisms linking mental health and social justice to reflect on the past, observe current initiatives and imagine possible futures.  

The first edition of “Stigma, Power and Hopes” happened in 2020 digitally. Its final exhibition was one of the main events of the 2020 edition of the Hamwe festival. Four Rwandan Artists, Alice Kayibanda, Moses Izabiriza and Wandulu Thimothy, contributed to reflecting the meaning and sources of stigma and self-stigma. Their moving work contributed to the discussion with the large audience of the festival and on other platforms. This year, under the umbrella of the partnership it has with RCHA and the Museums the institution manages, UGHE wishes to bring the mental health discussions within museums. 

Hear from Artists: Moses Izabiriza, Timothy Wandulu, Alice Kayibanda, Crista Uwase

As understanding mental health and wellbeing is changing, the idea of societal and holistic health is increasingly recognised in policy and practices. In such a context, the role of museums and other cultural factors as contributors to the prevention and creation of safe space becomes key. The residency Stigma, Power and Hopes will offer a collaborative platform for resident artists within the Rwanda Arts Museum to engage communities and propose innovative and creative ideas on mental health and wellbeing. 

The elderly in African societies performed essential roles, facilitating societal growth. They were regarded as critical contributors to vital aspects of their societies, such as transmitting values and knowledge to the younger generation. Research indicates that over the years, this recognition has been eroded. In addition, Sub-Saharan African countries are undergoing a major demographic transition.  

Rwanda’s is unique for many reasons. The country lost a large part of its population during the 1994 genocide perpetrated against the Tutsis. The following decades were an era of rapid improvements in life expectancy and total fertility because of significant investments in the health system and poverty reduction. In the coming decade, Rwanda’s elderly population will see an increase of 300% in its over 60’s. Other structural, lifestyle and cultural changes happened, such as urbanisation and associated migration, household structures, familial networks, and dynamics.  

Consideration needs to be given to the implications of these shifts on the vulnerabilities of the elderly population. A 2020 study observing older people in Rwanda reported that “Although they are perceived to be ‘wise’ and have a huge yearning to retain agency, they lack a political voice”. Is it a reality? If yes, how can we include and value this population group? At what point of the ageing journey does a person’s relationship with society change? What creates these changes? How does it affect older adults’ mental health and the people around them? How does it impact the younger generations? 

The residency: 

Rwandan artists are invited to the Rwanda Arts Museum for six months as residents. The Museum will offer access to its facilities, working spaces, collections, and technical support. The University of Global Health Equity and its partners will provide mentorship, financial support (living costs and work compensation within the limits of the available budget) to the artists, and access to their network of experts on the topic. Events and talks will be organised during the residency. At the term of the six months, a two months exhibition will be organised in the Museum. Applicants are responsible for their accommodation during the residency. 


The call for applications is open to artists residing in Rwanda, engaged in professional life and able to testify to an artistic practice for at least five years. There is no age limit. We welcome applications from individual artists, duo’s or collectives who are eligible for this edition of the residency.  

The residency is open to practitioners in all art forms. Eligible candidates must be available for the entire period of the residency (March to August 2022)

To be considered, applications must be submitted by Sunday 6th February 2022, at 11:59 PM Central African Time and contain the following elements: 

  • Completed Online application form
  • An updated resume (maximum two pages) 
  • An exhibition history, portfolio or other relevant documents providing information on projects already finished.  
  • 300 words note presenting proposed project or area of research for the residency  

 The project leads and their collaborators will make the selection.