Kinyarwanda was my first language even though I was in a foreign country. I later learnt other languages from school and friends. As a child, I was glad that I was told about Rwandan cultural traits seeing as my grandfather and mother would entertain me with stories about Rwanda.
I would then wait for my father to return home from work and I would retell the stories just to be sure they were true!
I recall once going to a three-year-old girls’ birthday party. She sang a song naming objects in Kinyarwanda and translated them into English, such as; house-inzu, cup–igikombe, elephant –inzomvu and drum- ingoma. I realized that it would be hard for this child to forget those words. The most intriguing bit was that she had not even started school. I confirmed that her parents taught her both Kinyarwanda and English, which was certain to help her understand better, when school came along.
Parents have a great role to play in order to teach and promote cultural qualities in young people if they are expected to uphold it. Parents are also expected to play a critical role in influencing the outcome of their children’s behavior or traits.
Great scholars discovered that if a child knows their mother tongue very well it’s easier for them to understand other languages such as English and French which are used in most school curricula. For example, if a child knows the alphabet and vowels in Kinyarwanda, it becomes easier for them to translate them into English or French.
Learning at a tender age makes it easier to remember! That said, parents must take a break from their busy schedules and teach their children the different aspects of their culture.
Children are the future of this country and need to understand lessons on culture and the ways of their ancestors in order to maintain ‘Agaciro’ (loosely translated to ‘dignity’) or else our culture will fade away.