Rwanda's latest comic book, Kami, has got many talking after its release on Tuesday, August 13. Social media comments like “Kami comic strip is truly captivating!”, “ You got have to tell your kids about how you read the first issue of the first Rwandan comic magazine,” among many others, flooded timelines in upon the release of the book.
This is the second book by the author, Mika Twizerimana Hirwa , after “Simbi The Inventor”, which he released in 2016. Kami is currently freely available online, although hard copies will be charged and provided on request.
In an interview with The New Times, Hirwa revealed that he drew book’s inspiration from the need to want to break the African norms that some things have always been and will remain in a particular order. He is also looking forward to whip up the stunted reading culture in Rwanda.
“In Africa, we tend to be trapped in some customs where you are told that things have been this way or that way ever since”, he said.
The book's cover, illustrated by Mika Hirwa.
He added that he wants this book to be a breakaway from people’s comfort zone to chasing their dreams, especially for the young ones.
His journey as a comic book writer
Hirwa shared that he started reading comic books at an early age until he was 15 years old. At that time, the scantiness of Rwandan comic books pestered him. In 2014, a report made by Save the Children on literacy showed that only 21% of students had comic books and most of them were from abroad.
“I then decided I was going to be a comic book author, no matter what”, he attested.
Now aged 22, Hirwa has worked with USAID Rwanda, Rwanda Education Board, Imagine We, Ducere Australia foundation, New Faces New Voices Rwanda and others on several projects such as ZUBA, That Child Is Me, Escape to a strange place, among many.
Hirwa is also known for his illustration depicting Cyamatare, who was a Rwandan King (1477-1510) and one of the best warriors in his time. The outgoing dreadlocked artist came up with the idea due to the scarcity of illustrations of ancient Rwandan heroes and kings.
Apart from his work, he enjoys and spends the rest of his time skateboarding, cooking and hanging out with friends.
Ever since he started his career, he has faced many challenges, but one that trumps them all is being underfunded. “I have to use my pocket money from side hustles”, he revealed.
On a broader scale, Hirwa wishes to be a source of inspiration to other people who want to indulge in doing things out of the ordinary within their communities and help in nurturing the reading culture among Rwandans. He advises Rwandan youth to read a lot, “for the books contain all the knowledge, and knowledge is power.”
He added: “ I am grateful to the people who are expressing their interest in reading Kami and I am also cooking something having ties with the culture.”, “It will come after Kami.”