Teenage poet writes to inspire youth to learn from Rwanda’s tragic history

Serena Uwase is a young poet and writer. Courtesy photo.

When did you start writing?

I started in October last year. It all started when one day, I was watching a TV show and felt the urge to get some things off my chest. That was how I started writing down things that were on my mind.

Do you have a writing routine?

Not really, it depends on how I am feeling and the inspiration comes straight up.

What exactly attracted you to poetry?

The beauty of it. It all started as simple writing but my love for it grew. I used to think that poetry was time consuming but actually it’s something that is really beautiful.

How do you approach writing about Kwibuka (Genocide commemoration) and what do you want your listeners to learn from your art?

I approach it by being really sensible, so that I don’t affect any other person’s point of view because we all have different point of views. I want the listeners to learn that, “the past is the past” we should move forward and what happened should teach us, the youth, something about Rwanda’s past.

This year the focus of the commemoration has been on the youth. What do you think the youth can do to contribute to the fight against genocide ideology?

What we can contribute as the youth today is alot, we grew up kind of knowing what happened in our country in April 1994, but we tend to think differently of the whole situation because we were never present. We should fight the ideology by being the rock of our country, putting what happened aside and focusing on the present and the future. we need to learn the wrongs of what happened and turn them into something big and better for our country.

What influence, if any, did the stories you heard, on the attrocities that occured as a child have on your decision to become a poet?

My dad told me that when he was nine years old (in the 1960s), they gathered his family and neighbours so that they would kill them. It really struck me but they were lucky enough to have found someone to help them escape.

I never intended to write about the Genocide but I had this one opportunity to write something about it.

What compels you to use the arts, in particular poetry, to keep alive the stories of the Genocide? How do these art forms serve memory and remembrance?

Since it’s the first time that I will be performing during the commemoration, I would love to continue the path because the stories that I hear inspire me so much. I would like to keep our generation informed on how everything was.

Some of the young people are not aware of our history, they think that Rwanda was always sunshine and rainbows. So I hope what we do will wake them up and see what happened appreciate how far our country has come.