At young age of 33, he is a man of many hats- a poet, movie actor, script writer, author and Member of Parliament.
Edouard Bamporaki’s name is synonymous with championing peace building through art. He vividly recalls the first time he ventured into arts at a tender age of 11.
“I started writing poems in 1994 when I was barely 11 years old. My first poem (When I get back to school) was inspired by my Tutsi colleagues in school who were all killed in the genocide. My teacher who I had grown fond of did not also return as he was killed. My class was later comprised of only Hutu students and a new teacher in the aftermath of the genocide against the Tutsis. This pushed me to write something,” he recalls.
His poem Iyo Badetsembwa tuba dutwenga loosely meaning if ‘they weren’t murdered, we would be smiling’ was a reflection of a perpetrator who lost friends in the genocide.
His passion for poetry at that time saw him win many prizes and accolades, including the ‘Best author from Africa’ award that he was given by Focus Features, an American film company in 2008.
In 2010, he embarked on a journey of acting where he played roles in several movies and writing books.
“I published a book (Their sin is my shame) which tells my story during the genocide. It was the first book published about the perpetrators of the genocide, as a number of books that were published at that time were stories of the genocide survivors.”
His acting roles in the Rwandan movies, such as Urunana got him an award as Best actor from American Heartland film festival in 2006. All these skills he acquired from studying short courses in film making, acting and “learning from other actors and film directors in the film festivals I attended.”
That’s not all. Far from art, the 33-year-old is a lawyer by profession with a Bachelors and Masters Degree in International Public Law from Kigali Independent University. He also holds a diploma in peace building and resolution from Vermont.
On why his books and films cannot be easily traced he simply responds; “I am not a businessman. I am an artist who was inspired by my tragic history because when I think about the genocide and its consequences, I feel a conviction to spread the message through art, books, movies and poetry.”
As boy, politics never crossed his mind because he was preoccupied with art. With a promising future in the arts, one wonders why he would venture into politics.
In 2013, the RPF legislator ventured into politics because he believed it would give him a bigger platform on which to spread the message of unity and reconciliation.
Art, he says, is a good mechanism to reach the masses, but is a bit laid back in conveying messages.
“Joining politics was not only my choice but also RPF who do not mind which field one is in if they want to deploy people. I am proud of my political work because it is related to my artwork. My art was about spreading a message indirectly but now sitting in parliament with a microphone before me is giving the message directly.”
“I’m still young and there is a possibility of doing it. The President’s vision for the country enables Rwandans to serve their country regardless of their social status. In whatever proportions that I may serve the country, I still have the energy to serve my country before I retire. I don’t know how long I will take part in politics but whichever way I choose to go, the message of peace will go with me everywhere,” Bamporiki says.
One of Rwanda’s youngest legislators, Bamporiki keeps finding himself back in the arts. Last week he launched his book “My Son, It Is A Long Story: Reflections of Genocide Perpetrators” a book that contains over 67 testimonies of genocide perpetrators, at an event hosted by Art for Peace Rwanda founded by the legislator, in partnership with the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG).
“I found politics interesting but again tiring because it requires energy to study law, go through reports and contribute in parliament. In politics you have to do what Rwandans want but then if you look around and realize that some art work is missing I find myself going back.”
“We lost many countrymen during the genocide while others fled after that and some were traumatized. It’s a tale of the journey we have made and where we are going and a contribution in the development. I do not see myself as one of the people enjoying the fruits of our hard work but rather among the contributors. I always find myself finding gaps in telling our stories about the genocide,” he says.
The legislator says he has more projects in the pipeline through his organization, Art for Peace Rwanda such as hosting the peace day.
Bamporiki is a family man too. Seven years ago he married the love of his life, Claudine Ingabire.
His thoughts on the Nd’Umunyarwanda concept
“People should understand the concept as a national identity, when you do not understand it, then you are completely lost. We still have a big number of wounded people especially the elderly who still identify themselves ethnically. The earlier they awake from this, the better for their own benefit and that of their families,” he says.
His wish is that Rwanda’s future generation will be driven by the spirit of national identity.
His parting words: “With the good leadership and available opportunities for us in this country, future generations will hold us accountable for our actions in building the country. We have to utilize all our might in healing the wounds of Rwandans and build the ideology of national identity,”