Fefe Kalume describes poetry as “a psychological remedy which strengthens the weak and gives hope to those who believe.”
“It restores joy to the bruised hearts,” he adds, and this line perhaps best captures the genesis of his own poetic journey. Kalume is one of the regular fixtures at local poetry and Spoken Word forums, like the Kigali Vibrates with Poetry and Spoken Word Rwanda. He writes poems in both English and French with relative ease, although he is more comfortable with French.
Kalume was born in Kigali in 1990, four years before the events that would later trigger the poetic juices in him to flow. He was born to a Congolese father and Rwandan mother, a mother he barely got to know, as she perished in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Kalume was only four years old when his mother died. The Genocide also claimed the lives of some of his close relatives, most notably his maternal uncles and grandparents.
He grew up in DR Congo, where he continued his primary and secondary education at a Catholic school in Bukavu.
After graduating, he went to Goma to pursue his university studies in International Relations. He composed his first poem while still in secondary school, as homage to his departed mother.
“Being a witness of the massacres, I had become like a monster,” the poet reminisces tearfully, adding that: “I only dreamed of cemeteries, corpses, human blood...”
Then, inspired by a burning desire to fight against the darkness that had enveloped his tender heart, to “fend off the monsters that had invaded my dreams” as he puts it, he begun to write. His first poem was titled The Death of a Mother. And he has never looked back. Mothers in particular, and women in general are a dominant theme in his poetry collection. His catalogue boasts such poems as, I Still Love You, also dedicated to his late mother, in which he professes undying love for his mother though deceased. There is Tribute to African Women, and The Value of a Woman, which both explore the same subject. His other poems include Iris My Beautiful Flower, a dedication to a girl he once loved; Afrika Wake Up, which speaks of the state of the African continent; while I Leave These Countries is a poem he dedicates to all Africans.
Other poems to his name include Music From Africa, Beer, a poem he dedicates to drunkards, The Calvary of Claire, and Hello Mr. President.
His poem, The Calvary of Claire, earned him the accolade of Best French Poem at Transpoesis, a monthly poetry forum in Kigali. He won an online contest organised by The Canadian Literary Creation for Youth.
Kalume does not write only poems, he also recently ventured into short stories, novels, and children’s stories. One of the books, In Search of Love, is his own autobiographical story. It is a comic story that describes the realities of a child born from two different ethnicities. In The Wedding of the Year, the author describes the problems of a single girl, who dreams of an exceptional marriage. Other short stories to his name include The truth Hidden in a Ring, The Daughter of Last Night, and Second session.