Healing offered through poetry

Sunday May 29 2022

"The Journey (Urugendo)", a collection of poems by Sylvestre Nsengimana. Inset: Sylvestre Nsengimana, author, poet and actor. Pictures: Andrew. I Kazibwe


Poet and actor Sylvestre Nsengimana has in the past been sharing his works through live poetry and theatre performances. Now he has new book out, The Journey (Urugendo), chronicling the value of Rwandan arts and cultural norms.

Published this month and to be launched later in the year, Nsengimana presents a cocktail of poetry in English and Kinyarwanda, making the book a versatile read. He doesn’t translate from Ikinyarwanda or English for he prefers each poem stays true in craft , for the desired audience.

Nsengimana believes that poetry is a healing tool, especially as regards connecting with the universe. The 159-pages book comprises five chapters, which the author refers to as rooms. The author groups his craft under each room. For instance, the first room titled "Room of Existence (Icyumba Cyo Kubaho)" comprises 12 poems, and compositions that introduce us to his craft as he reflects on life and existence.

Notable is "Urugendo, which questions and cautions a reader about life. "Keep Walking" is an encouragement to commitment, while "Imvune Z’umuhanzi" highlights the challenges artists face.

The second room titled "Room of Drama" comprises five poems and takes the reader through a creative sail of imagination. "Don’t Cry When I Die" assures and provoke society on the value of life, especially following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The writer further pays tribute to himself through "Remember my Name", a self-assuring English poem entwined with Ikinyarwanda too. The "Room of Love" is a compilation of eight poems, a sail through romance and commemoration tributes.


Legacy and spirituality

In the "Room of Legacy" are ten poems of assurance about life’s journeys, with notable poems like "Higama Nguhige" and "Living a Lie", a poem that questions the present-day fast-paced culture of tech meant to ease life, yet shattering humanity.

The concluding chapter titled "Room of Gospel" also comprises five poems, a spiritual tribute to craft . With poems like "Naraye Ndose Imana (I dreamt of the Lord)", which borrows from bible writings like Psalms 23, it reads like a prayer.

"Ubuntu Bwayo" takes on a prophetic tone, pointing out to how humans have slid away from the path of righteousness, but wear a hypocritical look. Nsengimana hails from Huye district.

After acquiring a bachelors degree in Applied Statistics at the University of Rwanda, the 29-year old poet who is also an actor, founded Umut Arts Limited, a company aimed at encouraging talented youth into using their craft to address mental health issues.

The company initiated the Rwanda Theatre Festival, which aims at encouraging theatre acts.