From Kigali to Rubavu on foot: Narrator on the essence of home-based storytelling


The journey from Kigali to Rubavu is about four hours by car. Now imagine the same journey by foot! Nathan Mugisha, also known as ‘Nathan the Storyteller’, spent five days walking from Kigali to Rubavu while shooting a documentary dubbed ‘Imuhira’. The short film is about home and the things one can miss while away, and why people choose to leave their homes. 

Mostly, Mugisha supports people who do community projects aiming for better changes, where he does visual storytelling for them and shares the videos.

“I grew up not knowing my home place for real. So, I decided to name my documentary ‘Home’ since there are so many people who know nothing about their home, some who miss home and others who can share a thing or two about home in general. Not only that, I also wanted my documentary to tell and show more about my country which I normally call ‘My Home’,” Mugisha says. 

Mugisha, who lives in Nyamirambo, attended Kigali Film and Television School in 2015 after which he took on photography, and in 2017, was employed at Vision Art Ltd where he was introduced to making videos and later found interest in storytelling as a way to showcase his individuality. It was then that he started doing visual storytelling and specialised in documentaries and commercial videos.

He grew up in a family of Christians where his father was a pastor who used to help people, and from that he was inspired to help others in the community by creating awareness on what they do through storytelling, and enabling them to get public recognition and as much support from others as possible. So far, he has managed to help people from Yanza, a sector in Nyarugenge District, access clean water, and some mothers who sell fruits and vegetables get some financial support.

In addition to this, Mugisha also plays a big role in changing mind-sets, by sharing ideas to change perspectives and turn adverse thinking positive, through the videos he shares on his platforms. He encourages people to understand that what they think is impossible can be done, with determination and persistence. 

Mugisha has worked with various notable organisations and companies—local and international—in 2020, he worked with UNICEF Rwanda where he made videos telling stories about their projects. After that, he worked on a 24-hour challenge dubbed ‘Marathon’. 

“I liked my voice, but many people said that it was not that good. I tried to get better and eventually won them over. In 2020, I came up with the ‘Nathan the Storyteller’ tag and started a 45-day challenge where I would produce a video every day and upload it, a journey that gave my name a boost,” he says. 

The 25-year-old then took on the challenge to walk from Kigali to Rubavu with a close friend, Kind Mugema, and while doing so, they shot videos and talked to locals asking them what they thought about home. In the documentary, people commented on what home is, what one misses when away and the best part about being home.

“All the people in the documentary said that ‘Imuhira’ is the place where you belong, where you live and feel safe since it is where your life is based. Among the things that can make someone leave home, they mentioned jobs, security, finding peace, health reasons, and visiting, to mention a few. However, after all this, one eventually goes back home. Whenever somebody is away, they actually miss home, be it the people, the life, the vibes and everything about home, thus, key in bringing people back home,” Mugisha says.  

This whole journey took eight days in total; walking eight hours every single day and sleeping in nearby guest houses. On the journey’s last night, Mugisha and Mugema slept in a boat on Lake Kivu, in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, after shooting a video. One of the most challenging parts of the journey, he says, was convincing people in rural areas to share their views on camera as so many people seemed shy.

“My future is with helping the community. A lot of people have things to share with the world, so I decided to document these untold stories, especially for Rwandans who do some humanitarian projects but rarely get the chance to share their work, yet they play a big role in the community. I use visual storytelling in foreign languages, mostly English. I do that so that these amazing works can be shared and recognised worldwide, hence, enabling the owners to get some funding from interested NGOs if possible,” he says. 

Souce: lusakatimes