Comic book writer brings Rwandan history to life

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By MOSES K. GAHIGI

At 25, Mika Twizeyimana Hirwa aims to become a household name in the world of fantasy comics, both in Rwanda and abroad.

As a child he started drawing different things with a pencil and pen, he didn’t know that was what he would do for the rest of his life.

His journey into fantasy comics began seven years ago, his first title, Simbi the inventorwhich was also the first Rwandan comic strip.

Almost all books published in Rwanda appear in the national academic curriculum.

The story was about a 13-year-old girl who invented a corn mill for her village, which ended up being a lifeline for the villagers.

Since then, he has authored four Afro-centric comics, but his breakthrough came when he authored a comic called Kami, which gained wide acclaim in Rwanda and beyond.

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Kami is an African fantasy comic, whose story is based in Rwanda. The protagonist, Kami is a young boy who was separated from his biological parents and now lives with guardians in the village of Natwe.

Although everyone considers him an orphan, Kami hasn’t given up hope of finding his parents and is working hard at a mining site to raise money for his quest.

The villagers, however, believe that no one should move at night as darkness is believed to come with calamity.

But it turns out that the spirits of the ancestor guardians of the village are also restless and want to get a new host so that they can bestow on that person the powers necessary to continue the work of protecting the village and its inhabitants from the powers that roam. in the darkness. .

Outlaw

One night, Kami broke the rule and met the mediums, and they imparted the spirits to him, instantly giving him the power to do extraordinary things.

The powers were both a blessing and a curse as they distracted him from his quest to find his parents.

The book, which is in two parts, was nominated for the Nommo Awards in 2020, an annual awards initiative of the African Speculative Fiction Society.

It is an organization of African writers, artists, editors and publishers of science fiction, fantasy, horror and related genres. Kami was on the top five books list.

In his books, Mika weaves African and Rwandan folklore and constructs characters from historical events, bringing Rwandans to life.

His latest project, Goga, focuses on events in the former Rwandan monarchy, depicting a conflict between two brothers from a royal line, vying for the throne. The main Goga character is King Ndahiro Cyamatare II.

The creator says he was inspired by reading comics and watching movies like Lord of the Rings and other Marvel Comics creations.

He’s also developing a Rwandan superhero, an idea he says appeals to a lot of people.

It’s an ongoing project, and with his team, they’re building the character and the value system.

However, he is engaged in doing comics, animations, digital illustrations and character designs, web animations, music covers and film effects, which are the biggest source of income for him.

“My work is a bit futuristic.”

“Rwandans abroad were very happy to see Rwandan comics for the first time, and that motivated me to create more,” he said.

Mika says he is surprised and excited by the reception his books have received from Rwandans around the world.

Mika, however, says he has yet to join the league of money-spinning Western fantasy writers. With the exception of Simbi The Inventor which was published by a Rwandan publishing house Imagine We, and which brought him money, the rest have not yet generated much revenue.

“The comic industry here is still very small and the reading culture is also very weak. At this rate, I think my comics will start generating revenue in 20 years after the industry grows and that value will be attached to this art form in the country.


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