Exploring themes of heartbreak, heaven and the human condition, Roje Ndayambaje is a talented spoken-word poet and Christian thinker whose words force readers to reflect on their own lived experiences.
Living and working full time in Newcastle (NSW), Roje says his poetry is more of a hobby these days, and he treats his writing practice as a way to “break things down and explore my thoughts. When I am writing, I am fully present.”
Roje says he has “always loved words and conversation and music with well thought-out lyrics”, but his love for poetry began in school, when his teacher introduced him to the American poet Anis Mojganis and his poem “Shake the Dust”.
“My mind was blown,” he explains. “I wanted to make people feel the way that poem made me feel. I knew God had given me a powerful story and an interesting perspective to life, and there was no better way to share that than in spoken-word poetry.”
Growing up in a refugee camp in Uganda, Roje says people really listen when he shares his honest life experiences.
“I’ve shared my poetry in many different places. I’ve shared poems about Jesus in pubs and people listened, I’ve shared my story about growing up a refugee and people paid attention. When you’re telling the truth and you’re honest in your expression, people will always gravitate to your work,” he explains.
“Poetry is a cool way to hear other people’s stories. It opens a space for people to be challenged, for them to ask questions and maybe reassess their biases and preconceived narratives.”
Reflecting on how poetry expands his relationship with God and affects him personally, Roje explains, “Writing poetry brings me closer to God because it forces me to reflect on how far God has brought me, and reassures me that He doesn’t intend to leave me.”
“God is the ultimate spoken-word artist. He literally said, ‘let there be’ and there was. The whole Bible is a big love poem,” he says.
Although lockdowns have largely prevented sharing spoken-word poetry in-person, Roje also posts poetry to his Instagram account @rojepoetry.
Although unsure of what his future holds, Roje says he would love to publish his work one day.
“I don’t have many plans, all I know is that I want to write as long as I live. I want to write about everything. Hopefully sometime soon I can publish a small collection of my words.”
Roje attends Newcastle Uni Adventist Church, NSW.