Meet Akimana: a self motivated artist

UNEMPLOYMENT IS one of the major problems surrounding the Rwandan youth. But one young artist refuses to surrender to those problems, choosing instead to remain creative and optimistic.
AT WORK: Akimana drawing. The Sunday Times/Courtesy.
AT WORK: Akimana drawing. The Sunday Times/Courtesy.

UNEMPLOYMENT IS one of the major problems surrounding the Rwandan youth. But one young artist refuses to surrender to those problems, choosing instead to remain creative and optimistic.

Jemima Akimana, known as Kakizi, is a 21-year-old resident of Nyamirambo in Kigali City’s Nyarugenge District where she lives with her parents and studies at nearby Mount Kenya University’s Department of Marketing.

In 2011, she finished her secondary school in accounting at APE-Rugunga but chose to take a different route, eking out a living by designing clothes, tailoring, and drawing.

She benefitted from training by colleagues who had gone to the famous Nyundo School of Arts in western Rwanda.

“It took me almost a year and a half to be a real drawer and it wasn’t complicated because I liked it and I had a long vision to achieve,” she said.

She draws images using paint and she is able to draw people’s portraits.

“I read books about fashion and watch fashion shows on television” she says. 

Akimana who designed one of the dresses of Miss Rwanda 2012, Aurore Mutesi Kayibanda, says she is always encouraged by her clients and the media who talk about her products.

Some of Akimana’s designs using clothes include ear rings and handbags made from different kind of tissues. 

“I have gained confidence. I know I can realise my vision. I also pay my school fees at university and I satisfy my needs,” Akimana says.

Encouraging others

Akimana says that “it is not a good idea to think about failure.”

“Always be optimistic and think in a positive way,” she advises.

To encourage others in that direction, she tries to share her knowledge and experience with other girls in order to help them develop their talents.

Even if she is happy with the status of her business, challenges remain including the lack of her own workshop, little marketing about her art products, and meagre capital for investment.

Should she get the capital, her plan is to train more Rwandan girls in tailoring so that she can realise her dream of making Rwandan clothes.