Dushime Uwonkunda, a young poet with an ambitious plan to educate others

Sylvie Dushime Uwonkunda is an aspiring poet and author. / Courtesy

At Just 21, Sylvie Dushime Uwonkunda, has already achieved a lot as an aspiring poet. For her it is all about the passion to pursue something you love.

She studied Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology in A Level at Gashora Girls’ Academy, but that has not stopped her from going after her passion for poetry.


Uwonkunda proudly wears the tag of a poet and a writer so much so that on her social media profiles she goes by the name “Uwonkunda Arandika”, which translates to “Uwonkunda Writes” and indeed she introduces herself as a writer and poet.


At a tender age, her exploits on the local poetry scene so far are quite enviable. 


On July 16, she published her 160-page book entitled, “Anxiously composed” made up of a collection of her poems.

In an interview with The New Times, she talked about a range of things from her background to her love for poetry. 

Below are excerpts;

Briefly describe yourself...

I am a shy young woman and a feminist who is passionate about writing and composing poems. My goal is to educate my fellow youth or the post-genocide generation on learning from the past mistakes and built a better future for themselves. 

How long have you been practicing poetry?

I always felt the passion of writing and composing since I was a child, but I was very shy. One of my close friends advised me to write a poem and post it on Instagram, which I did, and I got a positive feedback.

the poet‭  ‬reads one of her books‭, ‬‘Anxiously Composed’‭. ‬Courtesy

By September 2019, I had published my first book which is a collection of poems made up of 97 poems, and the second book, “Anxiously composed”, which is made up of 110 poems was published on July 16, 2020.

What themes do you focus on when composing poems?

The history of our country is such a unique story from most of the other stories you can find around the world. We need to make sure the tragic past we had does not repeat itself. Most of the old people who have experienced our dark past are on their way out and it is time for the youths to take up the mantle. Therefore, I tend to focus much on the post-Genocide generation that makes up more than half of the population. I tell them how the battle is now ours, needless to say that some tend to be careless because they have not experienced the tragic times our country went through.

How do you get inspired?

My inspiration comes from a number of things. I may be walking and get an idea. Some come from the discussions I usually hold with my peers, I may encounter a scenario that might inspire me to write something, it may be a movie, a song and so on and so forth. So, my inspirations come from different fields.

In your view, what is the status of poetry in Rwanda?

Well, a lot has changed in recent year, but it’s still a long way to go. People do not perceive poetry as a job that can earn you a decent wage. They simply consider it as a performance, hobby or pass time.

Printing costs are so high because books in Rwanda are not really given the value they deserve. However, there has been an improvement. I am now getting orders every day of people who want my works and they pay for them.

What are your targets? Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years from now?

I want to keep pursuing my career of writing, because for me, art is the best. I want to become a great writer so that I can establish my own magazine. These are my ambition, but I am not really sure what the future holds for me, but I know I will become a great person in future.

Who are your role models?

I like Angelo Maya’s work and in Rwanda I looked up to Malaika Uwamahoro. These two are really the embodiment of poetry. It’s been a tremendous honour to read the pieces of such strong women because they continue to teach and push me in various ways.


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