Classic vehicles had not been celebrated in Rwanda until the Shyuha Festival was held on January 27 at the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre grounds in Kicukiro, Kigali.
Together with his biker colleagues, Gidas Nsanzeumukire had wanted to bring together classic automobiles for a long time.
“It wasn’t just any vehicles. We wanted classic, customised cars and motorcycles,” he said.
The Shyuha Festival is modelled along other car events in the region, like Nairobi’s annual Concours d’Elegance and Uganda’s Vintage and Classic Auto Show.
The audience consisted mostly of curious youth. Activities at the festival included a parade of more than 40 cars, and motorcyclists held a race to show off their bikes.
Gratiene Bizizi, 63, brought his 1984 Honda Accord, Line-4, 1,830cm3 engine, 64 kW /86 horsepower, which he said he bought in 1988.
Another eye-catching car was the 1977 Iveco, a self-contained van. Suitable for campers, it has a kitchen, toilet, sleeping area and solar electricity.
“It is easy to maintain as its spare parts are available on the market,” said Jimmy Mugabo.
Hassan Jamul exhibited his 1961 Spitfire 1,500cc, with twin turbo and double carburettor. Having bought it at the age of 17, Jamul is now in his mid 40s.
“I’m hoping to exhibit my car in Uganda as well,” he said.
Other vehicles at the show included a 1974 Jaguar, a 1982 Mercedes Benz 380sl, a 1987 Toyota Hilux SC, a 1988 Toyota Levin twin Comforter, a 1989 Mercedes Benz S300, and some later models.
“When we talk of classic cars, which inspire, these are supposed to be the ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s models, not new models that have been featured here,” said Jamul.
Cedrik of Kigali Free Bikers, a regional club with members from Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania, showcased his vehicles and motorcycles.
“Riding is a lifestyle. We do it for relaxation,” he said.
The Shyuha Festival faced the challenge of finding sponsors to fund the event.
“We are glad the exhibitors turned up, and the audience didn’t disappoint,” Nsanzeumukire said.
The festival will be held twice each year.
“We plan to call on our colleagues in Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania to join us,” Nsanzeumukire added.