Forging cultural and economic bonds: Rumongi’s ambitions to strengthen Rwanda-Portugal relations

By Karirima Aimable Ngarambe
On 2 September 2023 at 03:56

Sonia Rumongi, is a 24-year-old Rwandan residing in Lisbon, Portugal. With a Bachelor’s degree in Transnational Law from the University of Luxembourg and a Master’s degree in International Relations from the International Center for European Training (CIFE), she stands out for her academic achievements and her commitment to strengthening cultural and economic relations between Rwanda and Portugal.

In an exclusive interview with IGIHE, she delved into her innovative project aimed at bringing these two countries closer together and promoting cultural exchange and economic cooperation.

Get ready to discover Rumongi’s inspiring story and her ambition to build bridges between her home country and her adopted land.

IGIHE: Hello, could you introduce yourself and explain why you are interested in implementing this project?

Sonia: Hello, my name is Sonia Rumongi and from a young age, I developed a strong interest in international relations and diplomacy, as well as understanding the world around us. This interest is largely due to the education my parents gave me.

Currently, I have been living in Lisbon for 8 months, a city where the influence of countries like Angola and Cape Verde, former Portuguese colonies, is very present. This sparked my curiosity and I began to take an interest in the cultural heritage present in the music scene through talented DJs.

During my interactions with individuals in the Afro-cultural and musical scene in Lisbon, I felt a curiosity for Rwandan culture and a strong interest arose within me. This pushed me to nurture this curiosity and imagine how I could contribute to strengthening relations between Portugal and Rwanda.

IGIHE: What are the objectives of this project and what activities do you propose to achieve them?

Sonia: The objectives of this project are manifold. Firstly, we aim to strengthen cultural exchanges between Rwanda and Portugal by encouraging artistic cooperation, exhibitions, festivals, and artist exchanges. Secondly, we hope to facilitate economic investments between the two countries by identifying trade opportunities and fostering meetings between Rwandan and Portuguese companies. Finally, our ambition is to promote tourism by encouraging travel between Rwanda and Portugal and highlighting the cultural and natural attractions of each country.

To achieve these objectives, we propose organizing joint cultural events such as festivals, art exhibitions, concerts, and performances to promote cultural exchanges between Rwandan and Portuguese artists. We also aim to establish a network of Rwandan and Portuguese businesses to facilitate economic partnerships and investments in various sectors. Additionally, we plan to create an online platform showcasing the tourist attractions of both countries to promote bilateral tourism. Lastly, we envision organizing study trips for stakeholders in the cultural, economic, and tourism sectors to foster exchanges and collaborations between Rwanda and Portugal.

IGIHE: What are the expected outcomes of this project?

Sonia: The expected outcomes of this project are manifold. Firstly, we hope to see an increase in cultural exchanges between Rwanda and Portugal through the organization of events and artistic collaborations. Secondly, we aim to strengthen economic partnerships between Rwandan and Portuguese companies, which could lead to mutually beneficial investments. Furthermore, we hope to see an increase in the number of tourists between the two countries through joint promotion of tourist attractions. Lastly, we seek to improve the image and mutual perception between Rwanda and Portugal through sustainable cultural and economic closer ties.

IGIHE: Could you explain why this project is close to your heart?

Sonia: This project is very dear to me as a Rwandan living in Lisbon. The connections I have made here, especially with my partner for this project, photographer Milena Kravetz, gave me the idea to create artistic and economic exchanges between Portugal and Rwanda. It is a way for me to contribute to the socio-economic transformations of my country and promote the beauty and richness of Rwandan culture beyond borders. I envision this project as a platform to facilitate cultural exchanges and promote economic empowerment. I hope to count on the support of Rwandan and Portuguese authorities as well as potential partners to successfully carry out this ambitious project.

IGIHE: Which Rwandan personality would you like to meet?

Sonia: I would love to have the opportunity to meet our President Paul Kagame, to share with him my ideas and my willingness to participate in the socio-cultural and economic development of our country through my project. I know how much he supports the youth as we are the future of the country. It is through collaboration between our elders and the youth that the goals of Vision 2050 can be achieved.

IGIHE: What are your aspirations for the future and where do you see yourself in a few years, both professionally and personally?

Sonia: I have a lot of ambition, and I would like to be able to realize all the projects I have in mind because I don’t want to limit myself to just one project. I believe in reaching for big things and being part of the evolution of my country through this project and others to come. I also wish to continue to find personal fulfillment, as it goes hand in hand for me. I am fortunate to be surrounded by supportive people in my life, so I want to keep those who motivate me every day to push myself and fight for what I love in life.

IGIHE: Are there any activities or hobbies that you dedicate time and energy to?

Sonia: I try to be interested in everything in my free time. I engage in sports when I can. I also enjoy practicing daily meditation before starting my day to center myself and prepare by doing positive affirmations. I am passionate about music, so I am trying to learn how to mix music to, perhaps, become a DJ from time to time. I also regularly read books on personal development.

IGIHE: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. It was very interesting to learn more about you and your future projects.

Sonia Rumongi, is a 24-year-old Rwandan residing in Lisbon, Portugal.