Aimée Gratia Ilibagiza Mutabazi, 24
Imana yirirwa ahandi igataha iRwanda [God roams elsewhere in the world and returns to rest in Rwanda]. This Rwanda mentioned is the birthplace of Aimée Gratia Ilibagiza Mutabazi who, due to the war in 1994, had to flee it and seek refuge elsewhere in the world.
The saying both hints at the importance of Rwanda as the resting place of God and at God’s timeless wondering away from it in the world. This paradoxical contemplation characterizes much of the personal and professional aspirations that Aimée Gratia is drawn to. Currently as a Masters of Arts candidate in Anthropology, her academic interests include identity reconstruction amongst Rwandan refugees who live and have grown up in exile. She draws largely from her experience as both Rwandan refugee and South African permanent resident to reflect on the ambivalent feelings of growing up away from home and having to live in different cultural contexts to make sense of life.
Aimée Gratia is a traditional Rwandan dancer in a Johannesburg based refugee cultural group. It is from here that she has drawn much of her creative and intellectual inspiration for her academic and community service work. She is a Mellon Mays fellow and has presented her research at Bowdoin College and Columbia University at summer institutes in the United States.
Passionately curious about humanity, Aimée Gratia describes herself as a creatively intuitive person who strives to find collaborations between her African-orientated academic work and broader social, political and artistic spaces. She is also interested in the role of African women in knowledge production as well as their financial emancipation as community builders.
Fun Fact: I recently developed a fetish for ASMR (Autonomous sensory meridian response) sounds. They help with focus, sleep and calming.