Ask anyone at Ashesi about Ifashabayo Dejoie, and almost always you would hear that he is a proud Rwandan. Since joining Ashesi, Dejoie has spent time building skills in social entrepreneurship, and working on social impact projects in Ghana. So when it was time go home for the academic break, he decided to spend time working on social impact projects in his community back in Rwanda.
Teaming up with a fellow Rwandan, Murekezi Derrick, from University of Rochester, the team set up the True Legacy initiative, a platform to celebrate individuals who have provided leadership for Rwanda in one way or another. For the inaugural programme, they selected the late Anonciata Mutamuliza, whose stage name was Kamaliza; Kamaliza was a music icon, whose songs portrayed a positive future for Rwanda, and had helped boost morale for the nation. Kamaliza also created an orphanage to provide a space for children who had lost their parents in the genocide.
“The idea for this event came out of lessons from some of the courses in African thought and leadership, which I was taking,” he said. “From such classes, I came to appreciate the roots of African bravery, the essence of serving the community and living a life of purpose. These courses stimulated my passion to work towards contributing to progress in my country.”
The event Dejoie and his colleagues organised, brought together leading artists in Rwanda and students from the Diaspora, to celebrate the spirit of Kamaliza. Through this gesture, they retold the story of the icon, and helped raise funds to support her orphanage as well.
“As an artist, Kamaliza, used her music to communicate the message that Rwanda needed at a time when there was little to hope for,” explained Dejoie. “Kamaliza herself participated in the war as a soldier with the rank of Sergeant. After the struggle, she organized free concerts for survivors, to comfort them.”
“We wanted to show that giving is not meant only for the wealthy,” Dejoie adds. “In our capacity as students, we decided to set an example to inspire our colleagues. For us, we achieved this 100%. Moving forward, we want to keep making a change. Our hope is that many young Africans will see this as a great way to celebrate their country's legacy and do same in their countries as well. Every society has had great leaders who stepped forward at some point, and there is a need for them to be recognized whether they are alive or not."