I recently had the pleasure of making a short film for the Rwandan Cricket Stadium Foundation, supporting their fund raising campaign to build Rwanda's first international cricket ground. It's a worthy cause that's building on the positive impact cricket is having on Rwandan communities since the genocide.
Cricket was largely unknown in Rwanda before the 1990's. Despite its popularity elsewhere in Western Africa, Rwandans had been spared the very English pastime due to being ruled first by Germany, and then by Belgium. They dodged the reach of the British Empire in the 19th century and therefore avoided cricket as a tool of colonialism.
|Rwandan Cricket Stadium Foundation's vision of a new stadium|
Rather than from Britain, cricket came to Rwanda a century later via Kenya and Uganda courtesy of Rwandan refugees. Many had fled to these neighbouring countries when tribal tensions exploded in 1994 and then returned to Rwanda bearing the gift of cricket.
The scarily recent genocide from which they had fled - during which 800,000 people were slaughtered over 100 long, bloody days - lives on in the memories of Rwandans and continues to haunt every day life. 20% of the entire population were murdered.
Currently, Rwanda's national cricket ground is on the site of one of the most horrific massacres of the genocide, upon which thousands of people were hacked to death with machetes. Until recently, it was common for players to come across human bones during play. It's perhaps somewhat fitting that I'm writing this on Halloween, given how gruesome these details are.
The Rwandan Cricket Stadium Foundation have recognised the role cricket is playing in Rwanda's healing process. As cricket brings people together they are keen to harness the unity that Rwanda's fastest growing sport is encouraging. Therefore, they set out to raise £1 million to develop a stadium with modern facilities so Rwanda can begin to host international games and attract more young people to the sport.
As part of the fund-raising efforts Rwandan cricket captain Eric attempted to break the world record for net practice by batting continuously for 52 hours. This short film, comprising of GoPro footage shot on the day, tells Eric's story:
You can help them raise the remaining funds required to finish their field of dreams here.