A famous Ugandan kick boxer once said that he is so tough that he is afraid of himself. Hawa Kimbugwe, a third year student of Human Nutrition Dietetics at Kyambogo University could say the same about herself. Whereas most of the great men and women have made a mark in their areas of study, Hawa is different. She has made a mark in her area of interest and passion – that is Poetry. When she gets on the stage, audiences see Hawa the Poet not the nutritionist. She is gifted with a talent of articulating personal and society concerns in a passionate poetic language. She uses edu-tainment (education through entertainment) to pass on messages about hard subjects in simple poetic phrases that capture audiences beyond imagination.
The secret behind her success is mentorship. She has been mentored in having self-esteem, expressing herself freely and confidently as well as entertaining. As a result she has made her voice heard on issues like domestic and gender based violence and marginalization during community dialogues in and around Kyambogo university. One of her most famous phrases is about affirmation of her position in society. It goes as follows:
“I am a strong black woman and I don’t apologize for it.” This has been adopted as a life affirmation and principle for herself and her mentees like Akello Immaculate from Kampala International University and many young girls that used not to believe in themselves.
Hawa has recited poems in the Parliament of Rwanda, at the Mentoring Walk, National Dialogue and performs at the National Theatre. She continues to train other girls to learn the art of self-expression as a critical avenue to gaining self-confidence. The American Ambassador, Deborah Malac described her as a “Dynamite.” Through the community dialogues and the Inter-University debates, she got to realize the impact of her words and the power of her voice. Cases of sexual harassment are said to have reduced because of her strong message to girls, potential rapists and security personnel. Rape incidents that used to happen in dark corners of the campus are no more due to the new security measures taken by the administration after they heard her pleas through her poems.
“The support network of my mentors in the program has exposed me to different world views. I have also had the opportunity to interact with people from diverse backgrounds. This has given me an informed point of view and the inspiration to be part of the solution to challenges facing girls and women from all walks of life.”