John Gunn lives in London, spending much of his time working with social start-ups and entrepreneurs. Fascinated by the unique culture of entrepreneurship he has seen in Rwanda, he partnered up with his sister Cate (a professional photographer) and a Kigali-based social business accelerator (African Entrepreneur Collective) to create a coffee table book that shines a light on Rwanda’s inspiring embrace of enterprise and innovation.
Beyond a Thousand Hills boasts over 200 photos and editorial contributions from a range of Rwandans, together recording the face of contemporary Rwanda.
“We spent months traversing the entire country by foot, meeting, photographing and spending time with entrepreneurs,” explained John.
“Being fortunate enough to document the country so intimately, we were amazed by the wonderful people and culture, the inspiring landscapes and incredible wildlife. We made a decision to make the project much larger, and while all profits from sales would still be donated to support local Rwandan entrepreneurs, the book itself would explore a holistic overview of contemporary Rwanda.
“We partnered with other local Rwandan companies (Akagera National Park, African Parks, Akagera Aviation, Wildlife Tours Rwanda, Go Kigali) and made multiple trips back out to Rwanda to photograph every corner of the country from land, lake and air. Our target audience is the increasing number of discerning travellers making the trip out to Rwanda.”
Paging through Beyond a Thousand Hills, you get the sense of a country at peace with itself, united in an optimism for the future. And there is good reason.
As the Gunns explain in the book: “Once a year, in April, all Rwandans down tools to participate in a ‘unity and reconciliation’ week. It is a time to reflect on and be grateful for the progress made – progress that continues to transform many aspects of Rwandan life.
“In the last 10 years, crime rates have plummeted, improved healthcare has transformed life expectancy and primary school attendance has shot up – Rwanda can now boast the highest attendance rates on the continent. Kigali has become one of Africa’s cleanest cities. These positive developments have sparked interest and investment from the outside world.”
The images in this gallery – shared by Cate and John Gunn with our thanks – offer a glimpse into everyday life in modern-day Rwanda as presented in Beyond a Thousand Hills. To view them full size, click on any image and scroll through.
The book is available to purchase on Amazon. Search for ‘Beyond a Thousand Hills’.