The first time we got to know about Gisa Gakwisi was when his molding of the Kigali Convention Center made it to social media. Not before long, the management of the Hotel and Conference was looking for him and so were we.
Accompanied by his older sister, we arrived at Gisa’s home shortly after 10am on Thursday. The road leading to their home in Kimihurura Sector, was a very dusty one.
We parked at the top of the hill and on foot, we started walking down a difficult slope that is hard to negotiate due to how tilted it is. At the bottom lies Gisa’s home.
Their home located in a swamp area, one of the many that will eventually be relocated to make way for a recreational park that will soon be constructed in the industrial area.
Gisa’s father; Gakwisi Nvunabandi welcomed us and immediately took us to the swamp nearby where Gisa was doing his molding.
Gisa is hard at work. He is mixing clay, wetting it and like an artist, he circles his new structure that is close to completion. He has been doing this since he was 6.
A student in Primary Five at Groupe Scolaire Rugando, Gisa is a shy 13 year old boy. I explained to him why we were there and throughout the interview, I had to repeatedly ask him to speak up.
He tells me that he has had a passion for architecture for a long time. “The Convention Center is not my first piece of work. I have also built the stadium, a stage with dancers and the Kigali City Tower,” he softly says.
So where does he draw his inspiration from? I ask. Gisa says that he observes a lot and is keen on attention to detail.
At school, he enjoys Mathematics, Science and French and when not in class, he spends most of his time looking for materials to use for his work.
“I need glass, wood and mirrors to do my work so I always go to building sites to get what I need,” he says.
Challenges and dreams:
Gisa says that like any other person, his work comes with challenges.
“I would like to be better and that requires more equipment like wires, paint and glass. I can’t readily find these ones,” he says.
He hopes that one day he can be able to visit some of the structures that he has built. He dreams of joining a technical school where he can pursue his passion.
“I know that I need to complete my primary education but at some point my dream is to pursue my passion in architecture or engineering,” he says.
Nvunabandi says that he started seeing the potential in his son’s passion as far back as when he was six.
“It started with his curiosity. He was always keen on knowing what builders were doing so he would wake up early, observe the workers and would come home and build exactly what he had seen. He was very observant,” he says.
Nvunabandi however says that he is desperate to find his son the supporrt that he needs to develop his talent and advance his career.
“Where we live, exposure is limited and paying School fees is a challenge," he says, adding that the family only provides moral support.
The father takes him to trade shows to see what other people are doing.
Gisa’s biggest wish besides joining Nyundo Technical School is to be able to enter some of the big buildings in Kigali.
“It would be interesting to see what they look like inside. I would like to connect the outside to the inside but maybe one day I will have my chance,” he says.