Katese Odile Gakire

A self-described professional dreamer and a woman of many firsts, Katese is a Rwandan playwright, director, and cultural entrepreneur. Among her many accomplishments in Rwanda are the first women’s drumming company (Ingoma Nshya, Women’s Initiatives), the first professional contemporary dance company (Amizero Dance Kompagnie), the first international festival (Festival Arts Azimuts), the first national festival in Rwanda (Rwanda Drum Festival), the first co-op ice cream store (Inzozi Nziza – Sweet Dreams) and the first recipient of the League of Professional Theatre Woman’s Rosamond Gilder/Martha Coigney International Award. Currently, she is the director of the Woman Cultural Centre (WCC). Since 2009, Odile is working on “The Book of Life”, an alternative memory of the Rwandan genocide that offers hope and an inspiring example of how to turn darkness into light.

She has recently launched “I Have A Drum”, a long-term programme that aims to break the precarious conditions in which female drummers work and to build a permanent ecosystem conducive to the rise of a successful drumming industry in Rwanda.