Rebuilding Hope in Rwanda: the Story of Lydia Hakizimana and the Power of Written Words

After the 1994 ethnic clash in Rwanda, local tribesmen who left the country during the conflict began to return. One returnee was Lydie Hakizimana.

Lydie was a teenager when she returned to Rwanda.  She came home in the company of her parent. But in Rwanda, living condition was not as it used to be.

The war had taken its toll. Destruction stretched as far as the eye could see. Grief from war seemed ever present. The future appeared bleak. Many probably lost hope.

Believing in the power of written stories as an escape from hopelessness and death, Lydie decided to establish a motivational book company in Rwanda.

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Lydie Hakizimana, Photocredit: www.lionessesofafrica.com

A reading community where people could  let go of pain and turn to literature to rebuild their life.

A home-grown idea which started out as a simple tool for community rehabilitation turned into a national campaign.

Drakkar Company limited has spearheaded the circulation of inspirational books in Rwandan schools. This is giving rise to a generation with strong reading culture.

Lydie spent her early childhood in Chad.  But her Rwandan parents introduced her to reading  at a tender age.

Her mother introduced her to literature. But her father inspired her journey into the science world.

In Rwanda, Lydie began selling books. Materials she collected from travels with her husband. Operating from a small bookshop, Lydie began marketing inspirational books.

Given the poor reading culture, Lydie decided to promote reading club. By 2006, Lydie established collaboration with Foreign Publishing Firm reselling their books.

Lydie big break came when the Rwandan Ministry of Education ordered school kids be taught in English rather than French.

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Lydie Hakizimana in her book store, Photocredit:www.lionessesofafrica.com

This mandate created demand for English books playing to her strength.

Her company decided to take advantage and promoted English books to schools. She signed a deal with Pearson publishers, a United Kingdom publishing company. She sold their books in Rwanda and Burundi.

From then, Lydie took giant steps. Drakkar Company signed deals with Heinemann, Longman and Penguin publishers.

More recently, Rwanda government’s  educational policy of providing book for every child has energized her company. Lydie has decided to help fulfill the policy.

She is contributing her quota to Rwanda’s book industry and reading movement. Helping her people help themselves through written words.

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