Kiki Katese

Director, Playwright, Actor

Former deputy director of the University Centre for Arts and Drama of the National University of Rwanda (2003 – 2010), Odile Gakire Katese ( or “Kiki”) is a self-described professional dreamer and a woman of firsts. She is a Rwandan actor, playwright, director and cultural entrepreneur whose work has been honoured around the world. She has a vision that is a long one, of how art will heal and inspire her country. Currently, she is the founding director of two companies, Rwanda Professional Dreamers, and Ingoma Nshya (“New Era”) – Women Initiatives.

She studied theatre in Paris at Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, Le Samovar, and at the Sundance Theatre Lab in Utah (USA). In Rwanda, she has both directed for and acted in theatre (her work has toured Rwanda and across Europe). She created the first professional contemporary dance company in the country –Amizero Dance – which has toured across Rwanda and to Paris. She is the founding director of the first women’s drum ensemble in Rwanda, which has toured to DRC, Senegal, Netherlands, USA, Zimbabwe, South Africa, UK and Ethiopia. She has written and co-directed two short films – Isugi and Ubuzima bw’umugore – one of which, Isugi, was awarded the Prix Images de Femmes at Le Festival Vues d’Afrique, Montréal. She is the founder of two major festivals in Rwanda: the International Performance Festival Arts Azimuts and the Rwanda Drum Festival. For the 15th commemoration of the genocide in Rwanda, she initiated 5 projects on the theme of Conflicts and Culture. Among these are the play Ngwino Ubeho or “Rain and Tears” and The Book of Life. Ngwino Ubeho toured to France in 2011. The Book of Life is a collection of letters written by the living to the dead. This project was selected by Sundance East Africa for their Theatre Lab and a reading of some letters created for this project took place at the United Nations in New York for the 18th commemoration of the 1994 genocide.

She is the first recipient of the League of Professional Theatre Women’s Rosamond Gilder/Martha Coigney International Award. She is a fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar, and for her work with Ingoma Nshya is also one of the recipients of the 2012 Carnegie Common Ground Awards, which honour outstanding accomplishments in conflict resolution, negotiation, community building, and peacebuilding around the world.