At 23 years of age, Sam Asiimwe Ruhindi’s poems deal with weighty issues aimed at transforming society; out of the over 21 poems he has completed so far, three easily stand out: Ode To Our Future Generation, Dear Girls, and Whom Will I Be?
Of the three, Whom Will I Be?, is the most popular and also his personal favorite. He wrote the poem while still in High School at Lycée de Kigali.
“People liked it immediately. Someone took the original copy that I wrote on paper using a pen and I had to make another copy. On my poetry blog it has the biggest number of views. Even at poetry open mic events, I’m always requested to specifically recite this poem,” says Samie, as he is commonly known.
His first poem, Master Healer was written in 2012, while in O-Level.
“I was in the school library and came across a book with many poems. When I went back to class I was inspired to write something. I got a piece of paper and started to write some lines,” he recounts.
“I talked about the struggles that mothers go through to raise their children.”
He kept writing and the following year, a friend talked him into creating a poetry blog and today, it’s where he posts all his poems and gets to interact with his growing fan base.
Currently he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Business and Information Technology at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, (JKUAT), in Kigali.
He first fell in love with weaving words in 2006, while in primary school. “We used to recite a poem about AIDS and it was like a school anthem,” he recalls, and explains that “poetry has got nothing to do with age. It’s about passion.”
Samie’s poem, Dear Girls, was selected best English poem at last month’s Transpoesis poetry slam at the Impact Hub in Kiyovu. Transpoesis is a monthly poetry competition in which about a dozen young poets and poetesses tussle it out on stage for the best in English, Kinyarwanda and French poems.
The event has been steadily growing in popularity and the last event drew a few poets from neighboring countries.
“I like talking to girls and discussing with them. They always come up and tell me that boys are the same. They are all players.
I know some sometimes we might not mean our words, but not all boys are that way. We are born to be brave and loving and caring and responsible, not players. One in a million is not a million in one. One boy could be a player, so that’s one boy in a million, not a million boys,” he explains the inspiration for the poem.
In his poem, Ode To The Future Generation, Samie questions “what’s going on around the world today – the bombings and killings in many parts of the world.
“Every year ceasefire agreements are signed but we still have more than 64 million refugees. So my poem asks; Is this love that we’re preached to everyday? Where is the humanity?”
The poem opens with the statement;
“If you tell me facts, I’ll learn, if you tell me truth I’ll believe, but if you tell me a story it will live forever in our hearts.”
“I was asking; do we have the facts that will make future generations learn? Do we have the truth that will make them believe? Do we have a story that will live forever in their hearts? Because killing has become a normal thing which doesn’t shock people anymore, and bombings dominate the news headlines every day.”
He admits that his poems draw both positive and negative feedback.
“There is this place I used to work and my colleagues asked why I do poetry, adding that poetry is for girls.”
Other times, he is asked if he ever hopes to join the ranks of some of the more recognizable names in contemporary Rwandan poetry –names like Angel Uwamahoro and Natacha Muzira and Eric 1Key;
“I always remind them that everything and everybody has got their own time.”
Samie is all praises for Natacha Muzira and Angel Uwamahoro, as two of the people that have guided him in his poetic journey. His dream is that one day, he too will go places on account of his talent.
In Dear Teachers, a poem he is currently working on, Samie takes on school teachers and the challenges that average students face at school.
“There is this thing where a teacher tells a student to give up on a certain subject because they are poor at it. I have many friends who dropped out of school just because teachers told them they couldn’t make it,” he explains, adding;
“While in senior one, I went to Uganda to check on my friends, who I studied with in primary. I found around ten of them had got married. When I asked them why, they explained that they had got fed up of insults from their teachers. I had a similar problem with Mathematics. In S.2 my teacher used to tell me that Mathematics wasn’t my thing and that I should leave his class. He would beat us every morning, until a point when we would go into hiding during Math lessons. My definition of a teacher is someone, who helps students discover what they already know and put it into practice. You can’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree. Even average students can be understood, they can be helped and they can also be great.”
Whom Will I Be
Lying here and my eyes wide open
As I reminisce on words of angel mom
She was always fascinated about my future
And now couple of years after
She crossed the Styx
I get in the same mood
About whom will I be
Ese will I be a man
And own my family
A wife to grow old with
And we have winsome children?
Will I be a leader
Maybe a minister or
An ambassador of my country
In a country far from home
And have that spinning chair in my office
Also move in those big cars
Oh future answer me.
We are really blessed to
Have you by our side
But I need to ask you a favor, warning
It’s about the words you call boys
Yes sometimes you might be
Kidding but sometimes kidding
Turns into reality.
Every boy is not
A creepy manhore
Player or womanizer
And many as you call them.