There is the common saying to never judge a book by its cover. That can also be true when it comes to judging a student by his or her major. The unexpected talent of a California Baptist University civil engineer major is his artistic ability in dancing.
Guillaume Iradukunda, 22, is a CBU senior who was born and raised in Rwanda. Iradukunda has been preforming traditional Rwandan dances for most of his life.
Stephen Fatland, senior civil engineering major, has known Iradukunda for over two years and considers him a good friend and roommate.
“I am amazed that he dances,” Fatland said. “For one thing, he is an engineering major and engineers tend to be uncoordinated. However, he is very coordinated and not too geeky.”
The traditional Rwandan dance that Iradukunda performs is called Gushayaya. The men who dance Gushayaya are known as Intore.
“I would consider myself Intore when I am dancing the traditional dance,” Iradukunda said.
Iradukunda said Gushayaya is a type of dance that is performed for enjoyment and has cultural significance.
Certain Rwandan dances such as Gushayaya, Guhamiriz and Igishakamba are expressions of celebration in Rwandan culture. These dances can be performed anywhere from birthday parties, social gatherings, church and even after professional meetings.
Iradukunda went on to explain that both men and women have their own role within Gushayaya.
“Girls usually have their arms high while dancing, to symbolize cows,” Iradukunda said. “Cows were a sign of prosperity in Rwanda. Boys usually dance with a shield and a lance, and most of their moves are meant to symbolize a warrior because in the culture, men were meant to be protectors.”
Learning how to dance the traditional Rwandan dances on a professional level requires lots of dedication.
“People in the traditional dance group spend hours and hours in rehearsing,” Iradukunda said. “To be really good and keep up with all of the professionals, you really need to train for a long time.”
Hosiana Abewe, junior biochemistry and molecular biology major, is another student on campus who has firsthand experience dancing with Iradukunda.
“I have danced with Guillaume a couple of times, and I found him to be a great dancer,” Abewe said. “He is energetic and dedicated.”
Iradukunda also explained how his talent could be inspirational.
“One can find a way to bring it together with what they already know, and make something no one has ever seen before,” Iradukunda said.
Along with the fun and enjoyment cultural Rwandan dancing is for Iradukunda, it also is a way for him to share his culture.
“People should know about this talent, because besides it being a way to relax and have fun, it also has meaning behind it,” Iradukunda said. “For those interested in learning about other cultures, this will be a great way to introduce them to the Rwandan culture.”
Amy Wright, Student and Exchange Visitor Information System coordinator for CBU, has seen Guillaume dance on a few different occasions.
“When Guillaume performs, you can definitely tell that he is in his element,” Wright said. “It is evident that he loves his culture and loves to share it with others. The CBU community always enjoys a cultural performance by our Rwandan friends.”