Didacienne Nibagwire was our 2013-2014 Roméo Dallaire Scholarship recipient. Dida is a graduate of Kigali Independent University in Economics, and is a theatre actress and playwright (writing in her native Kinyarwanda and French). She believes art has the power to make a difference, and focuses on using art for advocacy and social change; her work has covered a number of themes including reconciliation, forgiveness, justice and human rights.
Dida’s interest in theater began in high school. In 2007 she began working for an NGO called Never Again Rwanda, performing and co-writing different theater plays. A highlight was starring in a TV film on children’s rights supported by the Rwandan Supreme Court.
After this, Dida joined the Rwanda Tourism Office/Rwanda Development Board working on promoting the change, progress and beauty of today’s Rwanda. She believes Rwanda has come very far in terms of development and security, and wants the world to see a different Rwanda, beyond its painful history. However, she also believes that the difficult task of healing the people remains, and this brought her back to the world of arts, something which she knows first-hand has the power to heal.
Recently, Dida spent two years working at the Ishyo Arts Centre coordinating activities for major festivals, cross-cultural programs, and performances. This was where she also improved her acting skills. She was featured in Forgiveness and Justice, a documentary by Roger Spottiswoode and Rebecca Chaiklin. Dida also acted in the play Umuvunyi, an adaptation of Revizor by Nicolai Gogol, and in the short film Behind the Word.* Her last project before coming to Portland was working as an assistant producer on Rwanda’s first staging of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.
Across all of her work, Dida is especially driven to address issues faced by women and children. Since 2012, she has also been working with Girl Hub Rwanda as a research facilitator, girl-mentor and translator.
* A young student finds her lack of English brings her considerable ridicule from her classmates. One of her teachers tries to abuse her, the unwelcoming climate she finds at school because of the language barrier is so unbearable for her but she cannot tell it due to lack of words, she struggles to learn new languages, due to her drawing talent, she will be able to capture her arts teacher and with her, they try to fix her problems. (http://rwandafilmfestival.net/behind-the-word)
A message from Didacienne:
I want to help others like me. Since I began my involvement in theater, my dream has been to become a women’s and children’s rights activist. After my scholarship at Lewis and Clark, I plan to continue my studies for a master’s degree, and hope to create a cultural center in Rwanda to promote a deeper understanding of child and youth issues, and to help make sure the next generation is a peaceful one.
Update, September 2015: Dida coordinated a get togethers with between the Dallaire Scholars and Kurk Gayle and the Texas Christian University Wilken scholars in early August. She writes:
I’m now an independent consultant running a research project at Girl Hub for three months, had so many offers for full time jobs but had chosen going back to the arts; I will be working with Ishyo Arts Center for a year September 2015-September 2016 both as a project manager and Performer. This will help me to grow my company that I started with two of my friends “IYUGI” as it’s a creative company and we work mostly with artists. I’m thinking to do a master too, maybe end of next year I’m now looking for scholarships and doing some saving.”
Update, September 2019: I just finished working on a French film produced in Rwanda that is coming out late this year. It is based on a book by a Rwandan /French writer Gael Fay and is called “Petit Pays.” (The book has been translated into English as well.) I did the casting and I was a technical advisor during the shooting and was in charge of extras. I’m also working on my new theatre play now that talks about living with trauma and am still in the writing process.
At this time, I’m thinking about going back to study for a master’s degree.