Jacques Ntakirutimana is the director and lead actor in Ihangane, a new Hillywood movie that extols the virtues of patience and perseverance in the midst of hardship. In a chat with Moses Opobo, he traces the movie’s inspiration back to his own trying years as a house help scrapping for a living in Kigali.
In life, anyone can face trials and hardships, but it is through patience and having faith in God that they can overcome. The movie revolves around the life of someone called Makuza, who lives with his poor mother in the village. He has a friend, with whom he went to school, who is now rich and successful. One day, Makuza goes to look for his friend and ask for a job, but his friend denies him the chance. Then he decides to look for work as a house help, and finds it with a member of his church congregation. However, his new boss refuses to pay him for his work, her children spite and belittle him, and eventually he is sacked.
It was my first ever movie and I’m thankful to members of the cast, who offered to act for free, while other people offered free venues for shooting pictures. We shot the video over three days in Nyamirambo.
What inspired the script?
I looked around me and saw many people with bad beginnings in their lives, but with good endings. People like orphans and street children. I realised that people who are well off today were not always that way. I wanted to show that having a bad start is not a problem; the problem is how one acts upon that bad start.
But in many ways, Ihangane (be patient) is about my own life. I have been a houseboy before, and before that, I was a street boy. While working as a houseboy, I didn’t ever think I would be someone in life. I would move from house to house asking for work, convinced that it was my calling.
Then I realised I had to be patient and develop new thinking. In 2007, I became born-again, but still worked as a houseboy. However, I started to think of greater things like how to serve and be useful to other people.
What is coming up next?
I want to make more movies with an inspirational message. I know many people like the mayibobo (street kids), prostitutes and orphans who live under harsh conditions, and I want to address their situation through music.