Arts + Culture

NextGen: Congolese Author Sandra Uwiringiyimana Writes to Keep the African Spirit Alive

The 22-year-old survivor of the Gatumba massacre shares her perspective of Afrofuturism with OkayAfrica in 'NextGen.'

DIASPORAOver the course of July we'll be publishing short profiles, essays and interviews on the theme of "Afrofutures." Together these stories will be a deep dive into the way African and diaspora thinkers, technologists and artists view a future for Africans in the world and outside of it. 

Take a look at our introduction to Afrofuturism here.

Throughout this month, we'll also highlight and celebrate young, leading talents who already put into practice what a future with black people look like through their work in our daily profile series, 'NextGen.'

To close out our series, meet Congolese author Sandra Uwiringiyimana.

Sandra Uwiringiyimana is a 22-year-old author, activist and speaker from the Democratic Republic o f the Congo. As co-founder of the Jimbere Fund, an organization that aims to revitalize distressed communities in the DRC, she helps people in need in vulnerable areas and fights against poverty. Uwiringiyimana's memoir, How Dare The Sun Rise (Harper Collins), sheds light on her experience of being a refugee and battling trauma.

Photo courtesy of Sandra Uwiringiyimana.

Since her family’s resettlement in the United States in 2007, Sandra has used her experience to fight against the social injustice that occurred at the Gatumba massacre and has become a voice for women and girls, refugees and immigrants who have been often overlooked and undervalued. In telling her story, Sandra has shared the world stage with Charlie Rose, Angelina Jolie, and Tina Brown and has spoken at the Women in the World Summit in 2016 while she was still in university. In addition, she has addressed the United Nations Security Council at the request of Ambassador Samantha Power to plead with world leaders to act on the pressing issue of children in armed conflict.

For Uwiringiyimana, Afrofuturism is a vital part of her spreading her message. She believes it means “living in a world that allows black children and youth to see themselves represented in every aspect of society."

Photo by Rick Wenner, courtesy of Sandra Uwiringiyimana.

She continues:

"It means little black girls growing up appreciating their bodies and features. Afrofuturism means not having to tone down my blackness in order to seem more approachable or trustworthy; it means seeing every kind of black person represented, valued and validated," she says.

Sandra is an example of being an African leader and educating those who may not fully understand the African experience. “I want to show young Africans that we are allowed to be multidimensional. I decided to write a memoir at 22 because I was tired of reading stories that didn't reflect my Africa. My greatest hope is that through my activism and work I can demonstrate how to shed light on the problems of many African countries without making it the only narrative that's picked up by the rest of the world. We have many stories to tell and not all of them begin and end with despair. We are artists, adventurers, leaders, and so much more. We are all valid and deserve adequate representation. We do not need western saviors, we need more young Africans to invest in Africa; not just financially but investing our time to learn our history, who we were before all the brainwashing. It is our duty to keep the true African spirit alive and it is ultimately the only way to save ourselves."

News Brief
Photo: Single cover art courtesy of Emerald East

Rema Welcomes 2021 With New Single 'Bounce'

The Don Jazzy produced track reminds us of why the Nigerian singer-songwriter is topping charts.

Nigerian golden boy Rema took his time on deciding how to start of 2021—and we're glad he did.

The afropop hitmaker is out with his first project of the year, "Bounce", after stunning fans with word of an upcoming album, and the cooks in this kitchen have not disappointed.

Keeping it in the Mavin Records family, legendary producer Don Jazzy sprinkles his magic on the track, while undoubtedly motivating the young singer-songwriter to be his best self. And with this track being like nothing we've heard from Rema before, one could say Jazzy succeeded. "Bounce", fast-paced and fierce, is a love song dedicated to bewitchingly beautiful and blessed bottoms. The candid declaration and hip shaking beat are a force duo and we can't help but love it.

Of the single and collaboration with head honcho Don Jazzy, Rema says, "This record was inspired by the luscious and magnificent body of the African woman. Furthermore, I'm really excited about this tune because it's my first single with the legendary Don Jazzy."

Honestly, when you start the year off with a banger, you get to make songs about butts.

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