Folklore, myths, and legend stories are at the heart of African literature, and Africa is losing this culture slowly, especially among children. In Rwanda, children consume stories in books they can’t relate to. Imagine We Rwanda: Re-shaping Rwandan Children’s Literature.
Imagine We is a Rwandan publishing house founded in 2015 by Dominique Alonga, an author and entrepreneur, to promote African literature instead of relying on foreign literature by writing and publishing children’s stories written by local authors and stories the children can relate to.
Who is Dominique Alonga?
In 1997, Dominique Alonga (aged 5) and her family fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo from Rwanda for safety. During these times, Dominique was a scared little girl and couldn’t wrap her head around everything. The only thing she found comforting was her books; books were the only thing she could understand and enjoy.
A few years later, Dominique traveled to India to study Journalism with a specialization in Public Relations and Event Management from Sri Bhagawan Mahaveer Jain College. After completing her studies, she returned to Rwanda. She worked at the communications department of Never Again Rwanda, a non-governmental organization to empower citizens with non-violent means of conflict resolution and promote trauma healing.
While working for Never Again Rwanda, Dominique entered a competition for entrepreneurs with ideas to improve the lives of children. In August 2015, she was awarded a financial grant by a non-profit organization, Reach for Change. This award led her to quit her job and invest in her startup, Imagine We.
Dominique started Imagine We as a non-profit organization that seeks to improve the culture of reading and creativity in Rwanda as there was limited access to books and the only access being the Public Library of Kigali. With this problem and a solution in mind, she started working towards increasing the capacity for reading in Rwanda. She believes that one of Africa’s and Rwanda’s greatest needs is the love for literature, and she invested her time and resources in making that come to light.
Dominique Alonga is an entrepreneur decorated with awards; in 2015, she won the Tigo and Reach for Change Digital Changemakers Award, the World Bank Blog for Development Award in 2016, the Mandela Washington Fellow 2016 in the U.S., and many others.
How Imagine We is Re-shaping Rwandan Children’s Literature?
Imagine We was founded on the ground rule that reading books is necessary. Its goal is to make children’s books as accessible and affordable as possible because, to many Rwandans, they are considered luxury and expensive.
Imagine We started by visiting schools and donating books to them to improve the culture of reading and writing; book donations were made possible by the Presentation Academy in America, which holds annual book rallies and was able to ship these books to Rwanda, where they were stored for public access in a community library built by Dominique in Kacyiru. A few months later, after securing funding, Imagine We started book publishing.
Dominique believes children have the most curious minds, so Imagine We publish books mainly for children. In 2015, after starting the children’s publishing brand, Imagine We published its first book, ABC’s of Rwanda. They later went on to write and publish various other readers with an element of Rwanda. These books aim to educate children about Rwandan culture and history in a fun and engaging way. They also hope to inspire children to be curious about the world around them and to learn about different cultures. Besides book publishing and donation, Imagine We train young authors. They allow them to learn, write, and publish their books.
Imagine We aim to publish books written by Rwandans for Rwandan children, “Telling our own story is an important mission to me. We do not need foreigners coming to Rwanda, spend ten days and write a book about us,” Dominique said in an interview with Rwanda Today in 2021.
After its establishment in 2015, Imagine We has impacted 35,000+ children through free book donations and outreach, written over 550+ stories, and assisted over 30 schools and organizations through training, workshops, and reading materials.
As of November 2021, Imagine We sold over 950,000 copies and published over 30 books. Twenty-seven of these books were written by young Rwandan authors.
List of Imagine We Rwanda Books
|The ABC’s of Rwanda||Dominique Uwase Alonga, Kelly Burke||Fr 15,000|
|Between Wild and Free||Caroline Numuhire||Fr 13,000|
|Voogah Language Card||————————||Fr 2,000|
|Taste of Kigali||————————||Fr 30,000|
|And So The Silent Voices Sang: An Anthology||Dominique Alonga||Fr 15,000|
|Amaraba Dance – Jigsaw Puzzle||Imagine We Publishers||Fr 15,000|
|Ysolde et ses Chaussures Magiques||Dominique Uwase Alonga, Lina Irene Ishimwe||Fr 10,000|
|My Name is Life||Karen Bugingo||Fr 15,000|
|La Danse a l’ Akagera||Imagine We Publishers||Fr 15,000|
|Fun Day in Rwanda||Imagine We Publishers||Fr 15,000|
|Dance at Akagera||Imagine We Publishers||Fr 15,000|
|Journey To Musanze||Imagine We Publishers||Fr 15,000|
|Ysolde and Her Magical Shoes||Dominique Uwase Alonga||Fr 15,000|
|That Child is Me||Claver Irakoze||Fr 15,000|
These are some of the books published by Imagine We, and they have sold thousands of copies around Rwanda.
How to Buy an Imagine We Book
The price of Imagine We books ranges from 2000 Rwf to 15,000 Rwf, minimum. These books are of high literature and printing quality, and they are available for sale online. To get one, here is How to Buy an Imagine We Book;
- Open your browser, either Chrome or any other browser
- Visit imaginewe.rw
- Head to the menu at the top of the page and click “Buy a Book.”
- Scroll down the page to find a book of your choice. You can also use the sort feature at the right side of the page to filter the type of book you would love to buy
- After finding the text you wish to buy, click on it
- On the new page, select the number of copies you want and click on the “Add to Cart” button
- On the same page, you’ll find a notification at the top of the page; click the “View Cart” button
- Confirm the items in your cart is what you wish to buy, then click “Proceed to Checkout.”
- On the new page, enter all your necessary details, pay, and place your order.
It is important to note that Imagine We also charges you a Shipping Fee. If you purchase a book of Fr 15,000, your total charges will be Fr 16,000.
Imagine We, an independent publishing company in Rwanda, has grown from a simple idea into a force. It has reshaped how Rwandan literature is valued and encouraged a reading culture among children and young adults.
Follow me on Medium
Your startup isn’t blooming? Hire Bloomin!