Foreign Policy Magazine

The Elephant in the Comedy Club

A troupe of popular young comics avoids mixing humor and politics in Rwanda.

KIGALI, RWANDA—The comedians trickle into a rehearsal space in Kimihurura, a quiet, upper-class neighborhood, brimming with restless energy. Known as the Comedy Knights, the young performers slouch on wooden school chairs and warm up for their Valentine’s Day show by dissing one another. “His face looks like a cross between Mobutu and Jacob Zuma!”

In the seven years since they first came together, the group developed Kigali’s first regular stand-up show. With weekly live sets staged in hotel backrooms that are later broadcast on television, the Comedy Knights are part of a creative awakening in Rwanda’s capital that’s attracting young people to Kigali from across

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