Q&A: Diana Mpyisi - performing arts warrior
Briefly tell us about yourself.
I am 30-years-old. I just recently started my own company; it’s called Blue Oceans and it’s a communication and media consultant firm. It engages in communication activities as well as those in media in Rwanda. Its underlined philosophy is basic creative thinking, from conceptualising ideas to implementing them in the field of media.
I’m also a co-founder of Spoken word Rwanda which is an initiative I set up in July 2011 with my partner Betty Tushabe. Spoken Word Rwanda seeks to promote performance poetry, literature and creative writing. We basically provide a platform to exploit talents in the field of spoken word. I’m also a writer.
I’m the founding curator of what is known as the ‘Global Shapers’ which is an off shoot of The World Economic Forum. The World Economic Forum seeks to involve youth in its activities so what they came up with was the Global Shapers community around the World and we just started one in Kigali. I’m tasked to setting it up and working on a project that will empower mostly the youth.
How best can you describe yourself?
I live for creative concepts and ideas specifically those that empower people especially the youth and those that have an impact on Rwanda in terms of how the country tells its stories. That’s why I’m so involved in writing. I’m also planning to get into documentary production and I’m passionate about my country.
My weakness is that I’m extremely impatient (she laughs). I get that from my friends, sisters, I like going on to things as soon as possible, making them and running with ideas. I think I need to learn how really get a little more patient.
What was your childhood dream and are you living it?
Kind of miraculously I’m living my dream. My childhood dream number one was to be a lawyer and that was specifically because of courtroom dramas that I used to watch. But later, my childhood dream was to always be a writer, lying on some beach sipping a drink and getting ridiculous amounts of cash and just writing novels.
I’m not living like that per say but I’m living the dream because I’m doing what I always wanted to do which is number one, working for myself and also writing.
I have been writing ever since I can remember and it’s something I’m planning to take to a much bigger platform in the future. I studied journalism and politics for my undergrad and for Masters I did what is known as creative media enterprises.
How did you come up with Spoken Word?
It was a joint decision between my co-founder Betty Tushabe and me. I was really inspired by the fact that during my undergrad studies in South Africa, I went for a couple of underground poetry performances where incredibly talented people performed. What I saw really moved me and when I came back to Rwanda it’s something I thought of doing. When Betty and I were having a conversation and we were really bored, as you know the entertainment scene in Kigali is quite limited, and we wanted something different. We thought of what would entertain us and it had to be something different; that is how we came up with the idea of a place where people could meet and be entertained but more importantly, intellectually stimulated and promote the arts.
We decided let’s do poetry a one of the lounges in Kigali and that how it took off. Initially we were scared that like only five people would show up being our friends and family but from July last year till today it has been a phenomenal success.
We also want to expand the idea by moving it to schools, the public library and we plan to publish poems by Young Rwandans
What challenges have you met while promoting Spoken Word?
It a new phenomenal so getting people to buy in especially financially for some of the ideas we have, is a challenge. While preparing the Spoken Word festival this year we approached a lot of people. While they really loved the idea they said the will observe and next year they will buy in. Hopefully, next year the festival will be better.
What do you think about the reading culture here?
I think the reading culture in Rwanda is growing compared to what it was ten years ago. But a lot more must be done. It’s refreshing to see some of these activities that promote reading such as Every Body Reads Rwanda by the US Embassy, Rwanda Reads by UNICEF and Imbuto Foundation’s Reading Day.
What doing you think is the biggest challenge that the Rwandan women face?
Rwanda is country where women have such an enabling environment. From empowering young school girls to having role models in leadership positions, women can see and believe that they can make a change in their community. So it’s really difficult to see what their biggest challenge is. If I was to say a challenge, it would be to keep this momentum that we have created as women and to make it bigger for the next generation.
How do you spend your leisure time?
I devour books and I write in my free time. I like hanging with my friends and family. I love dogs. I like trying out new activities. I recently started playing golf although I’m yet to go past the 9th hole.
What is your current relationship status?
I’m very single and I have put this particular aspect of my life in the hands of God, He will decide.
What are your future plans?
- My future plans are to put Blue Oceans as one of the leading companies in the field of media and communication in Rwanda. Other than that my future plans are to continue working with various initiatives and organisations that generally promote the Rwandan arts industry.
Contact email: doreen.umutesi[at]newtimes.co.rw