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His love letters became the catalyst for his poetry

Daniel Niyitegeka is a poet of skillful and instructive poems, focusing on the life we live, and also showcasing the grief this poet feels when he sees the things happening in society today.

Many of the poems he writes are filled with sorrow. This leads many to think that he must have had a difficult life, which became the reason for his constant lamentation.

Niyitegeka, who admits that he did not have a good life but also not so bad that he would blame God, says that his life’s journey was full of obstacles.

He says, “In my life, I was not very happy, but I also didn’t live in misery. I am not someone who lived in luxury due to family situations, I couldn’t finish my education. I was born in Rusizi, but since our family moved a lot, I ended up selling bread in Nyamirambo at a very young age.”

It was while he was in the fifth grade of primary school that he began to realize he had a talent for poetry.

Nitegeka recalls, “I remember when I was in the fifth grade, I wrote a love letter to a girl. But at that time, in that letter, I wrote other people’s love phrases. Like ‘whoever hates you, I will curse them too.’ The girl showed the letter to the teacher, and it didn’t go well for me. But that’s when I knew I had a knack for expressing myself in words.”

Since then, he started writing short poems of his own. In 2019, he decided to start poetry as something he loved and wanted to make his profession.

He started writing on a small phone he had, but as the words he wrote were many, the phone would stop working, forcing him to delete some to add more.

He decided to buy a small notebook to transfer what he had written on the phone so that he wouldn’t have to delete them and forget them later.

He says, “I decided to buy a notebook to transfer what I wrote on the phone, which was always full. Sadly, the notebook filled up quickly too, and I had to buy another one, which also didn’t last a week.”

Niyitegeka’s first poem was titled ‘Ese Mana’ (Oh God). He says he wrote this poem based on others’ experiences. Later, he wrote another one titled ‘Bukene uranshakaza’ (Poverty troubles me), which was a challenge as it was uniquely personal.

This young man, who participated in ‘Art Rwanda Ubuhanzi’ this year and was lucky enough to advance to the final round, says that poetry is now a passion he pursues alongside his hairdressing job.

His poem ‘Nuzuye imyuka mibi’ (Filled with evil spirits) won him a spot in the final round. Niyitegeka says he wrote it because he was pained by what he saw happening in society.

He notes, “I saw things happening outside that hurt me. I thought, we walk with people, thinking they are our peers, but they are possessed without us knowing.”

Niyitegeka affirms that it is the wrongdoings of people that inspire his lamentations.

To those who have a talent for poetry but are unable to showcase their work due to fear, Niyitegeka offers the same advice that helped him.

He says, “This is the first time I’ve dabbled in poetry. For those who are afraid yet have a talent for poetry, I would tell them what the judges told me when I was in front of them: what’s inside you, you show it, because we, the people, don’t see it in you. We only see what you show us.”

His love letters became the catalyst for his poetry

Straight out of Twitter