Interview with Fiona Kamikazi

Fiona Kamikazi opens up about life during a pandemic and her experience as a YELP fellow

Who is Fiona Kamikazi Rutagengwa?
Fiona is a young Rwandan communications specialist and a 2018 YELP Fellow.

What have you been up to since graduation from the YELP Fellowship?
Since graduation, I continued my personal professional development journey which is a decision I took when I first applied to join the fellowship. But after graduation, I was even more determined because YELP was a wakeup call and an opportunity to shake me out of my comfort zone.

Before the fellowship, I had a stable and nice job that I liked and that was it for me but meeting different leaders from different countries, working in different sectors and different inspiring projects, I was reminded that my journey had not ended and I could achieve more and still had a lot to learn.I enrolled in a professional course and was supposed to sit for exams in May 2020 before the Covid-19 interruption.

Fiona taking a nature walk during the first YELP seminar

I was also fortunate to join a youth-led taskforce made of 20 young leaders from 4 continents who are responsible for developing themes, the action plan and agenda for the Commonwealth Youth Forum which is one of four meetings which were to be held on the margins of the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting known as CHOGM in June 2020. This meeting has been postponed but for the taskforce, it is an opportunity to put final touches on our work and deliver beyond expectations. And finally, I was selected as a Champion for a youth organization called Youth Combating NTDs (Neglected Tropical Diseases).

Any lessons you picked from the fellowship?
I learned a lot from the institute and the fellows but what struck me the most is the lessons on legacy. In “Reflections on Late President Kwame Nkrumah’s Pan- Africanism Legacy” by Ali Mufuruki, he says that “We must do away with the image of a forever infantile African who gets a standing ovation for a mediocre performance…” As Africans, our bar is so low on what we expect from ourselves and our leaders. We need to change that as leaders of now and yesterday. We have to all begin collectively holding each other accountable for the betterment of the #AfricaWeWant.

As Africans, our bar is so low on what we expect from ourselves and our leaders. We need to change that as leaders of now and yesterday.

Fiona with 2018 YELP classmate Allan Manzi at the LéO Africa Institute Annual Gala Dinner

What has been your key take away from the coronavirus pandemic?
This pandemic has been a strong hint that tomorrow is not promised, so:
1. Adapt first
2. Embrace Technology
3. Make friends in your own house

Anything you would tell Kamikazi from 10 years ago if you had a chance to?
Dear Kamikazi, Life will be nothing you like you had imagined and it is going to take a series of failures. But each disappointment, each misstep will teach you a new lesson, your mistakes and failures will make you an even more determined person. Life is unpredictable, open that savings account today and save some money on every gig and job. Choose your friends wisely because some of your biggest decisions will depend on their advice and guidance. Read more books but don’t forget to live life to the fullest.

Fiona is a Communications Specialist at I&M Bank Rwanda and a Digital Marketing advisor for various companies in Rwanda.

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