Marcele Niyigena, 20, won the Best Creator Award in Eastern Province, in a competition that attracted hundreds of artists and entrepreneurs in Ngoma District last week.
The math and science teacher at Kabirizi Primary School in Ngoma District made botanical jewelry from seeds which are drilled and strung into necklaces and bracelets.
This perfect bead is produced from a tall grass (Coix lacryma-jobi) that grows like a weed.
The natural pearly-white beads are dyed or painted using various shades of colours.
“The teacher was awarded with a trophy and certificate of merit. Niyigena is not afraid of trying, she started from zero to great things…she should be emulated by other young people. Our support as leaders will always be there for such innovators,” the district mayor, Aphrodise Nambaje, said during the award ceremony.
Niyigena said that her background as an education student, made her take the line of challenging but paying tasks.
“I use teaching aids from locally made materials…I don’t complain when there are no ready-made teaching aids. I go for banana fibers, sticks, stones, etc and make sure my learners understand what I teach...it is this background that pushed me to think of the beads from grass. The first trial worked, and then I started to plant more of the grass,” she said.
“Creativity is my thing; I started decoration business when I was only 17 years in Senior 5. I used to attend weddings and admire the decorations and this inspired me in a way.
‘‘Studying education made me very creative…I first grew the grass on a small scale, but I am now growing it on a big scale so that I can market it.” she added.
Niyigena said: “Seeds are polished and drilled which is a tedious and time-consuming process”.
The seeds could be worn as necklaces, or designed into bead curtains or colourful wall decorations.
“In any creative way you display them, these beads are bound to make an interesting and unique conversation piece,’’ she added.
Olive said she got the skills and knowledge from her mother.
Like mother like daughter
Agnes Mukeshimana, her mother, is also an English language and creative teacher at Rusumo High School in Kirehe District.
“I was raised by a single parent…I have no traces of my father. My mother decided to remain single, with me as the only child. She teaches English and creative education. I actually inherited her way of thinking. She taught me critical thinking, which I believe is paramount. So, just like her I am a teacher and an innovator,” she said.