Aspiring Rwandan writer keen to highlight issues around transgender, racism

Alain Jules Hirwa is a Mass Communication student at Kepler University. Courtesy.

Alain Jules Hirwa, is a 21 year-old Rwandan aspiring writer whose short story was published by the University of Baltimore’s Welter literary journal as one of only two African stories.

Hirwa has been passionate about writing since 2013, when he wrote his first short story.

In an interview with the Sunday magazine’s Edwin Ashimwe, he revealed how he got into writing and how the government can help young aspiring writers

First of all, what got you into writing?

The love of reading which I have had since my childhood fueled the zeal of writing. I should say that most people especially my high school classmates are surprised by me pursuing a writing career because I studied sciences in high school.

But I have always believed that it is better when one chases passion rather than qualification.

How does it feel having your work published globally by the University of Baltimore?

On the 5th of February this year is when I was informed that my short story entitled “Race in Relation to sex” had been published by the Welter literary journal.

My first impression about the glorious achievement since only two Africans got such a chance this year was the fact that I was representing Rwanda as a nation.

I have personally longed for such a moment, where  I can be a louder voice that reaches beyond our continent and inform people about the talent in Rwanda.

What is the impact of your work being published in the Welter literary journal?

Like I said before, I think this has created a bigger platform for me to be able to show my work, and to encourage other young Rwandan writers to be able to present their work in such call-outs.

I used to think this annual event is only for big and experienced writers but it is not like that. However, unlike what many people thought, this recognition does not include a cash prize.

But I have had different opportunities among which I was among the 435 applicants who applied for the Afro young adults workshops from the Goethe Institut” and I was the only Rwandan among the 52 that were selected.

Tell us about the first story you wrote and what it is about?

The first story I ever wrote was in 2013 and is called “Schola” which is a story about a couple who got divorced with each parent taking custody of one child but then lived in different places.

The children didn’t know each other and would later fall in love without knowing they were siblings.

How many stories have you written so far?

Apart from the two, that is “Race in relation to sex” and “Cry, oh my soul”, I am currently working on a collection of eight short stories. I have written a poetry chapbook entitled “Confessions” which is under review.

Hirwa’s story was published by University of Baltimore’s Welter literary journal.Courtesy.

What do you envision your work to be ten years from now?

I want to address different issues in society, homosexuality, transgender, racism, among others. Therefore I envision this as literature that would actually see mostly everyone involved and interested.

Secondly I want to encourage young students who are still in school and are passionate about writing to start writing early.

What is your personal view about the fact that most people regard writing a difficult career to pursue?

Personally I am a perfectionist who likes to see their work second to none, which makes it really hard to present a perfect piece.

But people should know that “Hard work pains but pays” and any potential writer should have a note book where they can write down all kinds of ideas and read a lot, this simplifies work.

How do you think the government should help aspiring writers?

I think we do not have enough resources that can support many of us who are aspiring to be good writers.

The government has been instrumental in teaching literature to students in secondary schools and Universities but I think there is still more especially introducing creative writing centers, hosting events that bring together good writers all over the continent, increasing publication companies since it takes a long time and much money to publish a book abroad.

editorial@newtimesrwanda.com