The reopening of the center was announced during a press conference which was held on March 4th, 2020 ahead of the 50th anniversary of Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) with the Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of France in Kigali, Mr. Jérémie Blin and Juliette Bigo, the Managing Director of the French Cultural Centre.
Blin said that it has been a pivotal time for the OIF since Louise Mushikiwabo took office.
“We believe that support the OIF future transformations and contribute to promoting the French language and Francophone values.”
He confirmed that the French Cultural Center will reopen by the end of 2020 near Kigali Convention Centre, replacing the old one which was located in the city center of Kigali.
“As we prepare to celebrate the OIF 50th anniversary, we intend to mend relations between Rwanda and France as it was agreed with both countries’ heads of state. It is in this vein that we plan to reopen the French Cultural Center.”
The new center will have two buildings, one for library activities and offices and the other for cultural exhibitions and meetings. It will be a platform for young Rwandans to learn the French language and for Rwandan artists to showcase their work.
The former French Cultural Center ‘Centre D’Echanges Culturel Franco-Rwandais (CECFR) was located near Kigali center roundabout. In 2014, the center closed its doors as the building that hosted it did not conform with Kigali City Master Plan.
News about the center’s closing were linked to the tense relations between Rwanda and France at the time but Kigali city administration explained that the reason behind was not political.
The center boasted entertainment spaces and a library and hosted cultural shows and training.
The OIF represents one of the biggest linguistic zones in the world with 75 member states and governments. Throughout March 2020, different activities have been organized to celebrate the OIF 50th anniversary including entertainment activities and trainings.
The activities were organized with the collaboration between Rwanda, the embassy of France and government institutions in Rwanda including the ministry of foreign affairs and the ministry of education.
Among the activities planned for the celebration are a concert with Yvan Buravan who won Radio France Internationale (RFI) ‘Prix découverte’ talent contest in 2018. The concert will be entrance free and will be held at Kigali Serena Hotel on March 20th starting 8 pm.
There will also be talent shows on March 14th at ‘Maison des Jeunes’ in Kimisagara, where people will compete through poems in the French language. The poem of the talent show winner will be broadcasted during Buravan’s concert.
During this month, a comic book competition organized by ‘Edition Bakame’ is scheduled where the winner will be announced on March 21st. The winning comic book will be showcased at Kigali Public Library for a week.
Celebrating the OIF 50th anniversary will end on March 28th with a comedy show dubbed ‘Francofourires’ featuring Michael Sengazi, winner of ‘Prix RFI talents du rire’ in 2019 and Hervé Kimenyi at Kigali Cultural Village.
The OIF was founded in Niamey, Niger on March 20th, 1970 and started with 21 member states most of them former French colonies. The organization currently has 84 member states (54 states and 26 observers). Louise Mushikiwabo, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Rwanda is the fourth and current Secretary General of the OIF.