While many resign to ‘fate’ and like the proverbial ostrich bury their heads in the and once faced with challenges, Irigukunze keeps his head up ready to confront any challenges, and says he is ready to pay any price, however high, to become an industrial mogul.
GILBERT IRIGUKUNZE, a security guard, and Third Year student at Kigali Independent University, is ready to pursue his dream of becoming an industrial mogul no matter the cost.
The 27-year-old resident of Kinyinya Sector in Kigali is determined to get there despite numerous pitfalls, he says.
Irigukunze’s story is one of despair and disillusionment. After excelling in his Primary Six exams at Gikore Primary school in Kansi Sector, Gisagara District, he joined GS Mutunda in Huye District for his Ordinal Level.
In 2006, he passed his O’ Level exams and was admitted to Groupe Scolaire for A’Level. However, as fate would have it, Irigukunze was dismissed just after one week for lack of school fees.
“That is when I thought that Kigali would be a breakthrough because I had heard that there were many jobs for casual workers,” he says.
Once he arrived in Kigali, Irigukunze joined a community of casual labourers as a porter, commonly known as karani ngufu.
“I did almost every casual job in the city from gardening to helping at construction sites,” he adds.
At one time, his wages were Rwf1,000 a day and although his colleagues would complain that it was not enough to put a meal on the table, Irigukunze saw things differently.
He would buy food worth Rwf300 for his evening meal, Rwf100 for breakfast and save the rest.
Back to school
In 2008, a well wisher, Tite Kanyankore, a man he used to work for, noticed that Irigukunze was a brilliant learner and offered to take him back to school.
“Despite my dream to study mathematics and physics, I was enrolled at Kimbiri Secondary School in Rutsiro District to study History, Economics and Geography.
Upon graduation from high school in 2010, Irigukunze’s fate was not clear. He had obtained 8.5 marks out of 11, which would not guarantee him a university scholarship. He thought the best possible way to shape his destiny was by getting a job in AGESPRO, a security company. He earns Rwf50,000 per month.
When Irigukunze started university in 2011, he paid the tuition from the money he had saved earlier Rwf450,000.
“To me, every peeny counts. That is how I managed to sustain myself and save for my education,” he says.
He is pursuing Economics because he believes “you cannot become rich unless you know how to manage your money”.
“I never buy anything for the sake of buying. I go for just priorities. I go for the essentials,” he says.
He adds that before buying anything, he writes a letter to himself asking for a loan.
However, juggling work and education has always been a challenge for him. At the beginning, his night shift meant that he had to be at his workplace by 5:30pm and leave the next morning at 6:30 am.
“It is very challenging to go to school after a night on guard,” he said.
However, as the adage goes, desperate times call for desperate measures, Irigukunze chose to walk to school in order to spare his transport fare, for a cup of tea.
He could have three hours of rest in the evening before reporting back to work, a situation that lasted two years.
Last year, the company deployed him to the day shift which prompted him to switch to the evening programme at school.
From 6.30am to 5.30pm, he is at guard in Gisozi Sector, Gasabo District.
When he is done with his work, he heads to school and returns home towards 10pm.
A senior officer in Agespro who preferred anonymity, because he is not the company spokesperson, said Irigukenze is a unique worker.
“He never reports late for work and always delivers on his assignments beyond expectations,” he said.
Despite this difficult life, Irigukunze always performs with distinctions at school. He wakes up at 4am every morning and revises for two hours. During his day off, which is every Friday of the week, he does a comprehensive revision of his courses.
“I cannot afford to fail. I have never missed a lecture since i joined university,” he says, adding that he intends to study up to PhD level
Basile Munyaneza, his class representative, said Irigukunze is a brilliant student.
“It beats my understanding how someone who studied humanities can excel in economics that involves a lot of mathematics,” Munyaneza said.
He said Irigukunze is a disciplined student who never misses class, despite the demands of his job.
A big dream
Irigukunze is already an entrepreneur. This year, he bought a piece of land in a Huye based marshland where he grows rice. With the first season, he earned Rwf100,000 from selling his harvest.
“I am planning to talk to Development Bank of Rwanda for a loan. I will acquire more land for rice farming,” he said.