When Rwandan poet and spoken word artist Eric Ngangare, widely known as One-key, took on the role of curator for the RwOT community account @my250tweets, his first tweet on 9 November 2015 was a joke: “First things first. I’m changing the password of the account,” part of the tweet reads. “I own this […] now!! You shouldn’t have.”
And when I asked him what he wanted people to expect from him during the week, he said “nothing,” really.
“I never plan for my tweets. I’m random so they should expect nothing. I’ll share what’s on my mind. If it goes blank. The account goes dark till the next curator. LOL.”
But Eric too, like many other Rwandans on Twitter sees a unique opportunity in taking the account, and he takes it seriously.
“I think it’s a micro-platform inside the platform that is Twitter. It’s still in its infant stage but later on I see a great opportunity for the RwOT community to learn about anything that Rwandans go through, think or believe no matter where they are,” he told me via email. “And the beauty is diversity even within the RwOT community. As an artist, I will get to share my work with a new and fresh audience.”
Last week’s curator, Odile Umwamikazi, told me holding the account allowed her to share her ideas, views and passions.
“Being a curator for a week allows you to share your ideas, your views, your passions, the things that make you laugh with a lot of amazing people from Rwanda and abroad,” she said in a DM. “I personally liked the fact that I could initiate different themes and conversations, and people would gladly take part in them.”
She said it allowed her and many other people discuss, learn, argue, and laugh.
Quite like Eric One-key, Odile believes RwOT benefit from the conversation created from the account – “because we all interact with each other regardless of the distance or the fact that we actually don’t know each other personally.”
Odile also told me her personal favourite subject during, the week she curated the account, was on Rwandese Shades. “I realized that being Rwandese means our personal history are too similar in a way that it feels like we all grew up in the same family,” she said.
I reached out to Sandra Ruzibiza, a Rwandan currently living in Canada, who created the @my250tweets account to find out more about it and what she wanted to achieve. A student of engineering, who also serves as head of communications for GroceWheels, she told me she launched it on 19 July this year. Here is what she said:
1 – What inspired you to create the account and what were your expectations?
I was inspired by several other curator accounts such as @Sweden, @CurateZAR, and @Curate_Africa. When I created the account, I really wanted to build a space where we could talk about our experiences as Rwandans (local and diaspora) but also as individuals. We all have different backgrounds and I believe that we can learn something new from everyone we come across, whether in real life or social media. I want every curator to feel as though the account is theirs. I want them to talk about the things they love, what they do, what their stance is on current news, share their passions with the rest of RwOT, etc. The point of the account is not only entertain the account’s followers, but also interact and create meaningful conversations.
2 – Can you name your most favourite curators so far?
The first five curators were Makeda (@contactmakeda), Mpingazima (@Mhinganzima), Thibault (@anonymous_933k), Lise (@soulurge5) and Dustin (@DustinShim). Honestly, I have no favourite curator because they all brought something new to the account. For example, @bahoremy started the hashtag #MuKiroriCyoMuRwanda which was hilarious and everyone could relate. @bayinganaa talked about sexual education in Rwanda which is taboo in our culture. @therealkwizera shared his passion for sports and journalism with us by live-tweeting a basketball game. @ninjalybrarian opened a conversation about cyberbullying (which in my opinion is something we need to talk about and work on as a community.)
3 – How much do you think Twitter, and the account in particular, is contributing to enriching the RwOT community and fostering freedom to express?
Again, this account has helped open conversations about certain issues that we do not always feel comfortable having with people in real life. It is also an opportunity for people to learn and understand issues that do not particularly affect them. People tend to say that it’s just twitter but this platform, if used adequately, can lead to bigger and better things. Let’s take the example of Lise, who started the hashtag #MentalHealth250 where people were invited to share their stories and struggles about depression and other mental illnesses. Seeing that mental illnesses are still stigmatized in Rwanda, no one expected the huge response it got from RwOT. And now, she is working on a web series about mental health featuring Rwandans and other Africans.
If you too would like to become the next curator – or suggest someone – email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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