Non-approved tourism: widespread and sustainable, indigenous and responsible. The format that gives new life to 'marginal' places in Abruzzo and Basilicata opens in Rwanda in March 2022

From Abruzzo to Basilicata to Africa. Sextantio by Daniele Kihlgren, already active in Italy with the recovery of stone and wooden houses and tuff caves of two abandoned places or “minor”, will open in Rwanda Progetto Capanne on 21 March 2022.

The identity-building idea and the widespread hospitality respectful and aware that gave rise to the projects in the village of Santo Stefano di Sessanio (AQ) and in the Sassi di Matera is to be repeated following with a similar philosophy in another area of “marginality” and “social disadvantage”: on Nkombo island , in Lake Kivu, in Rwanda. The proposed one is non-approved tourism, sustainable, indigenous and responsible, designed to concretely support the local population and not disturb their balance.

The project - which includes traditional huts in the style of the Ethnographic Museum of Rwanda in Butare, made out of local materials following local traditions and with inhabited huts already found in the northern part of the island -has been entirely financed by Sextantio members in the form of an Onlus, which, since 2008, has supported the current project of providing health insurance to the neediest in Rwanda.

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Where is the island and where are the new huts

Nkombo is an island on the borders of Rwanda and Congo, which is located in Rwandan territory but mostly populated by Congolese fishermen, farmers and herdsmen, engaged in a purely subsistence economy. The area where the huts are positioned is located on the northern tip of the island on Lake Kivu and is the part which is furthest away from the mainland, has the lowest population density and is inhabited by a Muslim minority.

The project scrupulously adheres to traditional huts

The Capanne Project came about because of exhibits found in the Ethnographic Museum of Rwanda (Butare), which contains traditional huts and the hut of the King of the Tutsi. Both these types of huts are not unlike many others found in the mountains of equatorial rainforest.

Local building techniques in contexts and uses different from the original ones

The slight poetic licence taken in this project, where original solutions were unworkable, take their cues from local building techniques, used in different contexts and for different purposes compared to the original ones but nevertheless showing no contemporary contamination. Despite having to rely on simple, non-electric tools, the high quality of the raw materials and impressive artisan techniques result in a sleekness of style and proportions. The bathrooms, whilst not betraying the original atmosphere imparted by the project, offer WCs, bidets and hot-water showers.

How the small village is configured

In addition to the two huts, the dining area and the adjacent kitchen, a second kitchen, built in accordance with the strict regulations of this country, is located a little further away. The small village is rounded off with the custodian’s house and the house of the local family who run a small farm.

Minimum stay: three nights. Rate per night: free donation to Sextantio Onlus.

Self-subsistence

As on the rest of the island, life in our huts will also be one of self-subsistence through the farming of our land and the livestock rearing that characterise the local household economy. Crops and animals are those traditionally found in equatorial villages with a few local peculiarities distinct to the island, such as cassava, in addition to the production of “banana beer”.

Tourism not approved

Compared to a standard African resort, in the Capanne Project, the local anthropological aspect is the element on which the entire experience centres. The attempt, also in this third project and in a more dramatic measure than in Santo Stefano di Sessanio and Le Grotte della Civita di Matera, is to prevent tourism from destroying the precarious natural balance of the area.

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Protection of socio and cultural balance

If in Italy, the difficulties that may arise concern the historical landscape protection, in Africa the problem is purely a cultural one. All these activities have the principal objective of maintaining the native social and cultural balance in order to preserve the dignity of the local populations and not to turn them into hordes of beggars or, in the best-case scenario, sellers of dubious local art and handicrafts, as happens in many African resorts. This will be the greatest challenge of a project which, although starting with the best intentions, has variables that are difficult to accurately predict.