David Graham, 2009

Rafiki, shown on the right, lost his father in the Rwandan genocide. At 16 years old when this picture was taken Rafiki was living on the streets following the death of his mother who had contracted a fatal disease. In the lives of Rafiki and millions of others, the scars of the Rwandan genocide of 1994 are still evident. This exhibition showcases five of David Graham’s remarkable 2009 photo portraits documenting the lives and struggles of young Rwandans dealing with homelessness, often resulting from the loss of family members in the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

David Graham became a photographer in 2004 after his son became paralysed in an accident. He subsequently gained an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication. He lives in London and prior to becoming a photographer he had a varied business career, including holding a royal warrant as shoemaker to Her Majesty the Queen. His work has been exhibited extensively, including as part of the 2009 Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery.

This year The Wiener Library is proud to be participating in the twentieth annual ‘Kwibuka’ commemoration of the Rwandan genocide. ‘Kwibuka’ is the Kinyarwanda word for ‘remember’. More than one million Rwandans, mostly Tutsis, were killed in the genocide between April and July 1994. Almost 80% of the Tutsi population were wiped out. David Graham’s remarkable photographic portraits made with the Rwandan charity Streets Ahead will be on display in our Exhibition Area from 7 April until 2 May. On 1 May the Library’s activities for Kwibuka 20 will be culminating with an evening of testimony and reflection at The Wiener Library hosted by Dan Godshaw of the Rwandan Youth Information Community Organisation (rYico).

Streets Ahead Rwanda is a UK charity run by a group of volunteers with a shared commitment to improving the lives of street children in Rwanda. The organisation was set up in December 2009 by UK based supporters of SACCA, the Streets Ahead Children’s Centre Association, an established Rwandan NGO working with street children. All were inspired by the work that SACCA does and were touched by the stories and the resilience of the children under SACCA’s care.