How well do young Rwandans know their history or culture? Do they even care to know? These are some of the concerns 23-year-old Kevin Cyusa has, and something else he has observed—many young people can’t express themselves in Kinyarwanda without mixing it up with English or another language. ALSO READ: New hub to stimulate youth interest in Rwanda’s cultural heritage To play a role in preserving tradition and getting the youth more engaged, Cyusa uses his skills as an artist to portray Rwandan culture, currently, in a series of portraits. The visual artist specialises in scribble art—a method that uses random, uncontrolled lines to create patterns and textures—and sketches portraits of influential figures in society like politicians, athletes, musicians, poets, and more. ALSO READ: Five things Rwandan women couldn't do 50 years ago He is also fond of cultural symbols like the striking ‘amasunzu’ hairstyle, traditionally worn by Rwandan men and unmarried women. The style dates back centuries and has made its way around the world, even to global red-carpet events, like the 2018 Oscars when actress Lupita Nyong’o rocked it. Each of the portraits in Cyusa’s series dubbed ‘Imigani’, loosely meaning proverbs, has a unique cultural adage—some are linked to how people view a public figure and the lessons they learn from them, he says. ALSO READ: Umuganura: Rwandan youth urged to be wary of foreign cultural influence So far, he has completed 12 portraits and looks forward to achieving his target of 100 by the end of the year. He anticipates organising an art exhibition on the series by June. With this, Cyusa hopes to remind young people that if they are driven by western culture, it’s easy to forget their true identity and sense of belonging. “Many youth are lost in notions they see in movies and social media, they have modernised the local language with slang to seem cool and fit in, but that is improper,” says Cyusa. The visual artist says that to some young people, speaking English is ‘a sign of being educated and civilised’, but sadly, some believe Kinyarwanda is for the illiterate. ALSO READ: Are Rwandan youth struggling with ‘ancient cultural values’? He believes that regardless of the level of one’s education, Kinyarwanda will always be valuable as it is the language that continues to unite Rwandans. Cyusa says his art also aims at educating young people on their ancestral history. He is optimistic that if more books, material, and lessons about our history are presented in schools, young people will have more knowledge of tradition and legacy. ALSO READ: Women who defined Rwanda’s heroism culture “If young people are not guided well to understand their culture, they will fail to define who they are and be buried in a state of confusion,” he says. Cyusa calls on teachers, parents, and other stakeholders to guide the young generation to a solid sense of belonging because there is a lot of distraction on social media, which can easily discourage them and influence them into beliefs that are misleading. ALSO READ: A closer look at Rwandan heritage that needs to be repatriated He says that embracing Rwandan culture starts with supporting our own, for instance, listening to local music, watching our movies, and reading our books. “We are blessed with many tourist attractions that visitors from all over the world come and enjoy, but the two questions to ponder on; are Rwandans exploring this beauty, or do they just want to save money and travel to other countries before they even discover the splendour of their own? Do we tell others about our traditions?” Cyusa emphasises. He adds that the reason his portraits centre on influential people is that there is something to learn from them. “Take an example of President Paul Kagame who urges Rwandans to find ways to solve their own problems because expecting others to do it for them will only leave us with no one to blame but ourselves,” Cyusa says.