After an arduous journey spanning 25 years, Emmanuel Habumuremyi has finally realized his dream and launched his first bi-directional dictionary (English-Kinyarwanda and Kinyarwanda-English) dubbed ‘Iriza Dictionary’. Iriza is a Kinyarwanda word for the first born child. It is also applicable for cows. In an exclusive interview with The New Times, Habumuremyi disclosed that Iriza has more than 1700 pages with 42,000 words (21,000 English-Kinyarwanda, and a similar number for Kinyarwanda-English). Habumuremyi said that he started working on the project in 1997 when he was still a student at the former National University of Rwanda (UNR) which is now the University of Rwanda. He said that initially, he worked with four other colleagues, but they abandoned the project after a few years. “At university, I studied languages and specialized in English,” he said, adding that “with Iriza, we wanted to solve the language barrier issue which was most prevalent at the time because we had many Rwandans who had just returned to the country after many years in exile.” Furthermore, he disclosed that the main goal was to help people learn English or Kinyarwanda while having a tool with basic words among other reasons. Habumuremyi said that it was a difficult journey, with many discouraging him, besides losing the partners with which they started the project. “However, giving up was not an option. Instead all these obstacles pushed me to learn more English and lexicography and how it works to be able to put together my dictionary,” he added. In 2006, Habumuremyi submitted a draft of more than 1,000 pages to the Ministry of Sport and Culture and they supported the idea but urged him to improve it. “The draft I submitted was the collection of words I used to gather from various media outlets,” he explains. Habumuremyi said that after getting feedback from the culture ministry, he said that his project took shape and it took another 16 years for him to have his first edition of Iriza, which was launched this month, coinciding with the month-long literacy campaign. The 25-year journey resulted in the first version of IRIZA which he said he will keep updating up to the level of globally renowned dictionaries like Oxford, Cambridge, McMillan among others. “This is just the first edition. I want people to read it, critique it and I will be listening. I will take all feedback and act on it in subsequent editions. That is why I need as many people to read as possible.” Habumuremyi has so far received ideas from various authors both native English speakers and Kinyarwanda speakers as well as from Rwanda Cultural Heritage Academy (RCHA) among others. Asked why there have not been many copies of the dictionary in bookstores, he said that he is still in talks with local and international publishers to have it published for mass distribution.