Rwandans are not purported to be open people. They rarely say what they feel, and to know what they think about you is basically a mystery. I have a different theory about their communication skills.
Rwandans transfer all their need for opinions into their eyes. Goodness! All that judgement in one look.
Zoe and I are in the taxi gossiping about what young adults generally gossip about (cute boys) using English and that slang Ugandan school kids pick up in high school (jazz, mob, nesh) and so forth. However, close to our destination, I noticed that the conversation in the taxi had ceased and all eyes were generally burning through us. I swear, I did not need words to know what the people in the taxi thought of us.
I know the man in red thought I was the worst show off in the history of Rwanda and East Africa. The lady with the fake hair was wondering whose girlfriend I was. However, the teenager at the back was thinking of the easiest pickup lines in French -to translate of course. He managed to come up with one which he whispered to Zoe and she laughed. Turns out, Direct Translation is a b*#@% to work with.
Don’t think that the taxi affair was an isolated case. I know people who speak foreign languages will empathize with me. Try speaking Chinese when you are a Rwandan in Nyamirambo. I am right here, tell me what will happen. I know it will seem like as if I am being too harsh on my people but I have seen all kinds of African curiosity but this type wins the cup.
I am on the stout side of life. Don’t think I am complaining, I am not, However, in Rwanda I am constantly reminded of that fact. Once and for all, I do not want to know! You think I don’t have a mirror at home? When I come out of my room I am aware that I am large, so telling me the moment you see me… “Grace, you are so big!” won’t gain you any brownie points where I am concerned.
That is another area, which as a Rwandan, I urge other Rwandans to work out of their system. Bluntness is beautiful, where it is required - in corrupt offices south of the equator. But where it borders on rudeness and malice please desist. Otherwise I will have to start informing people in that surprised tone they use with me in a manner alike to the conversation below:
PERSON1:“Grace, you have become so fat like a pumpkin!”(I swear people say this to me sometimes)
ME: “Oh, so you noticed! How fortunate, I wonder how that passed my notice this morning!” *Very sarcastically!