In ‘Beasts of Burden’, Paul Seawright turns his attention to Rwanda. In the Rwandan genocide of 1994, members of the Hutu ethnic majority murdered an estimated one million people, mostly of the Tutsi minority in just 100 days. The genocide spread throughout the country, as ordinary citizens were incited by local officials and the Hutu Power government to take up arms against their neighbours. 25 years later a distinctive project, “Cows for Peace”, pairs perpetrators with their victims. In the project, the groups meet and raise a cow together to reconcile and develop a sustainable future.
In 2019, Paul Seawright accompanied the group as a photographer, creating ‘Beasts of Burden’. Seawright’s images examine what is invisible within this space: the tension of the place but also the delicate nature of the caretakers when working with these animals, the landscape where these atrocities occurred but also a non-judgemental look at the people still inhabiting the land, without revealing sides or social standing. Beasts of Burden offers a powerful look at Rwanda post-conflict and the nature of trauma, reconciliation, and community.
“We are privileged that Paul Seawright has decided to share his recent work on the reconciliation within Rwanda with Belfast Exposed. Following the shocking genocide in Rwanda, the government’s creative Cows for Peace programme, created to bring its broken communities together, is one that can inspire communities across the world.” – Deirdre Robb, Chief Executive. Belfast Exposed