Rwanda’s youngest MP is a blend of art and politics

DONNING A FITTING dark designer suit and neatly trimmed afro-hair style, Edouard Bamporiki, Rwanda’s youngest legislator in the Chamber of Deputies, still cuts a look of an ordinary young man. 

DONNING A FITTING dark designer suit and neatly trimmed afro-hair style, Edouard Bamporiki, Rwanda’s youngest legislator in the Chamber of Deputies, still cuts a look of an ordinary young man. 

Born in a poor neigbourhood in Nyamasheke District of Western Province in 1983, Bamporiki speaks and carries himself around with an air of ease characteristic of a young man on the rise.

As boy, politics never crossed his mind then—all he was preoccupied with was art (poetry and acting). Indeed, he went a head to build a career in art by becoming an internationally recognized filmmaker, actor and poet.

Already a household name in his career, one wonders why he would venture into politics. But memories of the events of 1994 changed in course and what how he thought he would contribute to build his country.

“At a tender age of 11, I witnessed politicians mobilise the killing of innocent people during the 1994 Genocide [against the Tutsi], and that motivated me to join politics some time, so as to show a difference,” he said. 

The RPF legislator ventured into politics because he was convinced it would give him a higher platform on which to spread the message of unity and reconciliation. Art, he said, is a good mechanism to reach the masses, but is a bit laid back in conveying messages.

“However, this doesn’t mean that I am ditching art. I just felt blending the two (art and politics) would help deliver the message more effectively.”   

First day in Parliament 

About two weeks ago, Bamporiki took oath of office as a Member of Parliament and his first day as a fresh legislator was neither eventful nor memorable. “I got into the house braced for day-long  complex debates, only for us to be sent away from the House a few minutes later because it just orientation day,” he said with a feeling of disappointment.

Though visibly a confident man, he admits feeling intimidated once in a while being the youngest member of the House. So, he tries to conduct himself with extra care, so as not to be seen as inexperienced.

He regrets that even after winning an election, a number of people still can’t appreciate that an artiste too can make a good member of parliament, so he is left with a challenge of proving himself.

Bamporiki calls upon more young people to take up leadership positions, since they are the epitome of innovation. He however maintains that the youth should to look up to the elders for mentorship.

When asked about his inspiration, he responds with an un-usual composure:  “I have always dreamt of building a good Rwanda I shall never see, so this is what makes me wake up every morning to do what I do.”  

Bamporiki is not your typical workhorse though once in a while he tries to strike a balance between work and play. “In the evenings if I am not in Kigali Umubano Hotel for swimming, then I am attending a Christian concert somewhere in the city outskirts.”     

Currently pursuing Bachelors of law at Kigali Independent University, he maintains that studying doesn’t interfere with his work, since he does evening classes. 

He is also part of an organization called Youth Conneckt that has been traversing the country in the past months, spreading the message of reconciliation and unity to the youths, in particular.

Bamporiki is a family man too. He is married to Claudin Ingabire, his wife for three years.

Youth conneckt aims at involving young people in dialogue on issues concerning reconciliation and Unity, so that past mistakes may never be repeated. 

In a past interview published by The New Times, he explained the origin of this organiaation:

“Our main aim was to create space for young people to meet, talk and share ex­periences because every Rwandan has a story to tell, based on those discus­sions, some people find it necessary to apologise for what their fathers, relatives and extended family did in the Genocide,” 

He added: “So it is with this background that we formed Youth Conneckt.”