Rwandan poetry

“The Day I Will Recover”, the road to healing from mental illness

A poem conjugated in the future tense, the time of hope and life to come. A life our Rwandan author strongly wants to be free from anxiety and depression. To him, looking ahead to the future means to envision himself as finally healed and actively promoting mental health awareness to stop the stigma. It means being able to pick up a pen and write, returning to the village where you grew up to say to all men that, yes, they are allowed to cry and share their burdens. And, eventually, it means to write on all the walls the word “resilience” so that can anyone can see it and know it.

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“Midnight Crisis”, when you take cover under the roof of trauma

The days go by in solitude; the narrator is far from her family and has no access to means of communications. She then looks at a picture of herself, a glowing and enthusiastic version of herself very different from her perception in that moment. From that observation emerges a dialogue with the self, as she looks for a sense of identity, for personal and family history and eventually, for a sense of belonging. So she returns with her mind to her parents, to her grandmothers and individual and intergenerational traumas, such an “unbalanced cycle of life” we try to make sense of.

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“Left without”, a woman inside the imaginery cave of depression

Akimana Divine is a Rwandan poet, mental healthcare advocate and human rights activist. Her works have been published on numerous magazines and anthologies. The poem “Left without” allow us into that imaginery cave that is depression: a dark place where one is left without anything but his/her ghosts and fears. Divine has had her own hardships in life, first as a young girl being bullied for her weight and then as a single mother raising her boy alone. These painful experiences led her to find comfort in poetry and to write her own poems as a way of struggling against depression.

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