From a very early age, Elisabeth Kampire was fascinated by poetry. She started writing in Primary Six and has since found ways to give her craft a boost. Born in Muhanga District in 1998, Kampire, known as Dinah Poetess, has taken her art a notch higher, from paper to video. Poetry is defined as a form of literature or artistic writing—it is entertaining, rhythmic, and imaginative. It is meant to portray the author’s emotions/experiences while stirring the reader or listener’s reactions. Dinah Poetess in the video of her poem, ‘Ayurukundo’. “The reason why I make videos for my poetry is to be able to reach a larger audience”, says Kampire, the author of Ayurukundo. “During this time where YouTube is more popular than books, I couldn’t sit around and wait for events to be able to perform in front of an audience,” she adds. Kampire also says that this form of presentation projects well her message, even when someone is not able to comprehend her words. Inspired by Rwandan poetry Ayurukundo, a recent poem, and others like Sinanze Gakondo, Beyond the Limitations, and Mwana Wange, are all beautifully written by Kampire, mostly in Kinyarwanda. When asked why, Kampire says, “I want to be the next Nyirarumaga, the mother of poetry in Rwanda. The potess during a performance. Photos/Courtesy In an article published by this paper titled, ‘Nyirarumaga, mother of Rwandan poetry immortalised’, as the foster Queen Mother of King Ruganzu II Ndoli (1510-1543), Nyiraruganzu II Nyirarumaga played a central role in institutionalising the use of poetry to perpetuate the history of the reigns of Rwandan monarchs. ‘Her poem, Umunsi ameza imiryango yose (the day she became the matriarch of all families), tells the story of Nyamususa, the wife of Gihanga, who founded the Nyiginya monarchy. Legend has it that Nyamususa bore three children, each of whom inherited a kingdom from their father: Kanyarwanda was bequested Rwanda, Kanyabugesera, Bugesera, and Kanyendorwa, Ndorwa. ‘Nyirarumaga composed this poem as a model for a new historiographic poetic form called Impakanizi. Its form can be viewed as a necklace –urunigi, in which every king’s history is added like a pearl/bead –isaro,’ the article points out. “I’m very much inspired by other poets before me who were outstanding at it, Maya Angelou for example, but with Kinyarwanda as my mother tongue, I want to preserve pure Rwandan poetry and get Rwandans to like it as much. “My dream is to be a renowned artist and poet, and I want to make a positive impact on my community,” she says, adding, “I want to be able to inspire the youth, for them to know that it is possible to use your talent and make a living and impact at the same time. I want to see Rwandan poetry shining on global standards.” Challenges “I used to earn from this, through performances at different events and weddings, and also writing songs for others, but then with the current situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, it is nearly impossible. Currently, I work with The Madhouse Entertainment for videos which is not a permanent agreement,” Kampire says sadly. “Now it is hard to record a poetry video, of course with my limited resources, but also with the movement restrictions and social distancing. All these make it hard to market my work and I think it is common for anyone else who is in the same field,” she says. “It is challenging to work in this period, so I will continue working on my projects slowly by slowly because we do not know what the future holds, but I won’t stop. My plan is not to make money, my plan is to brand my art. I believe that once an artist has a good brand out there, money brings itself.” The message in poetry In Ayurukundo, Kampire talks about how love betrays us. “How one person loves another, while the loved one has feelings for another, funny thing is we can’t even decide to stop loving the one we prefer to love instead love the one who loves us back,” she says. “I don’t usually have specific topics that I talk about. I just observe and see what is going in society. That’s how I get motivated. Poetry is not for old people, historians or experts in Kinyarwanda; it is for all of us, to learn from it, express ourselves through it, and enjoy it,” the 23-year-old adds. Apart from poetry, Kampire enjoys reading the Bible and watching movies. She is also pursuing a Bachelor’s degree at the African Leadership University.