Marina Syvine, 24, is a Burundian writer who has a lot to offer. In this exclusive interview, she invites us to explore her world of literature, activism, and fashion. We get an insight of how she fell in love with words to finally be able to write her first book “Mpore Ku Mutima” (Peace Upon Your Heart), which embeds a collection of short stories that expose some of the hidden battles of many Burundians. She also gives a glimpse on her inspirations and hopes for the future, as a writer and a citizen of the world.
So Marina, tell us, who is Marina Syvine in general? What is she passionate about in life? Tell us about the things that make her feel alive.
Marina Syvine is a young Burundian entrepreneur and writer. She is passionate about literature and the arts in general. Beyond that, she is a voice that often speaks out on behalf of women’s empowerment, youth inclusion, climate change and mental health. She enjoys traveling, sewing (she’s a fashion lover), creating spaces for discussion on different themes, donating her time to different activities that include youth and/or women.
About your passion for books, how did it start?
My love for books started when I was introduced to the library at a very early age (around eight). I slowly developed my pen, writing anything and everything. From there, I had little notebooks in which I wrote my stories. I wrote my first collection of short stories with a pen at the age of 11. I’ve been writing ever since.
How did writing emerge in your passions/as a passion?
As I said, I started out writing anything and everything. But then I realized that I really like writing, creating a world, being read, inspired by words, etc.
Tell us about what inspired the idea of writing “Mpore ku Mutima” ? And why the title “Mpore ku Mutima”? What does it personally mean to you?
I always wanted to write a book. But I didn’t know what to put in it. One day, I was listening to a discussion and it made me sad how so many topics aren’t discussed and are slowly killing the community. I decided to write about it, and the title came to me as I wrote. I wanted to sympathize with these silent victims, hence the title Mpore Ku Mutima, which actually means Peace Upon Your Heart.
Writing can be a very exhausting and resource-consuming activity, how did you manage to cope with such challenges as a young author?
So I was really helped by everyone I asked for help. Writing a book is far from what I imagined. Many times I almost gave up, but my editor is a very cool, flexible and understanding person who helped me through the whole process. And then there are friends, family and people around me who really encouraged me to see it through to the end. If it hadn’t been for this support system, I wouldn’t have made it.
Might be early to ask, but do you have any idea of how your readers will react to your new book?
I really have no idea. But one thing I am sure of is that the book is not difficult to read. The stories are very simple and easy to assimilate.
Can you tell us about the influences or inspirations that have shaped your writing journey so far?
I read a lot Chimamanda, Michelle Obama, Eckhart Tolle, Ryan Holiday and many others. But these four inspired me because their ways of writing are cool and simple. A bit like a conversation…I like this way of writing. It involves the reader in the story, and the writer lets go of the wheel a bit and hands it over to the reader.
Where do you see Marina Syvine in the next 3-4 years to come?
Write more books, speak for the forgotten and the victims, again and again…and travel to participate in wider spaces of exchange.
A message to those who want to embark themselves in writing?
Take heart! It’s worth it! Artists and writers are often misunderstood, but as soon as you have at least two minds that recognize and appreciate your work, it’s worth it. So, cheer up!