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Sophia Nzayisenga is the first female master of the Inanga, a traditional stringed music instrument, currently a favourite of young Rwandan musicians. Her father, Thomas Kirusu, one of the most renowned Inanga players, began to teach Sophia at a very young age. At the tender age of nine, Nzayisenga started performing at different concerts amidst the great opposition that was based on her gender and cultural norms: “Many people used to tell my father to stop me from what I was doing with the argument that I won’t get married because I was doing a man’s job” she recalls, “thinking that some particular activities should be done by a particular gender can block you from your potential. But with today’s gender equality advocacy, people should know that what a man can do a woman can do. Musical talent runs in my family, as far back as my maternal and paternal grand fathers.” Nzayisenga says. Andi Otto & Sophie Nzayisenga met in Kigali in January 2020. The recordings took place during the research for the theatre performance “Learning Feminism from Rwanda”, which has been created by the Flinnworks collective from Berlin together with artists from Rwanda in 2020. African feminists see Rwanda as role model and success story for high female representation in politics, education and workplace. Males tend to outnumber females in most parliaments around the world, but not in Rwanda. Rwanda was the first country in the world to have more than half of its government run by women. “If I die today, I would die a happy woman because I have achieved my dream of keeping our traditional culture booming and inspiring many youth to learn it” she discloses. Learning feminism from Rwanda!
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