We need a rethink on our traditional institutions


RE: “Are customary marriage rituals on verge of extinction?” (The New Times, December 1).

I tend to agree with Mr. Nkusi that in Rwanda, “the traditional marriage concept is a cheaper option”. I agree with him, but not on his premise: He talks about and is concerned with monetary investment, I am rather concerned with the concept, beneath what this written piece labels as ‘outdated traditional rituals’.

If, as a human community, we would go back to the foundational concept of the ceremony and re-establish its meaning and role in building up our Rwandan community today, money and outdated rituals wouldn’t be our concern as they are now.

Following decades of a wrongheaded peregrination, it would rather be now advised to turn back to our roots, in order to devise a new starting point and impart a new direction to our individual and community life that is today completely astray.

Unless we, individually and collectively, resign ourselves to simply die; and this is an option that also should be objectively envisaged! Alternatively, however, another option as well deserving careful consideration would be to urgently re-think our traditional institutions, such as the marriage institution, and corresponding ways of traditional life, such as old marriage process and rituals, and meticulously adapt them to actual times.

That, I believe, is among the things only the Ministry of Culture ought to be doing. For instance, to institute a think-tank exclusively reflecting on the whys and ways of the marriage institution in Rwanda “back in the day”, on how it is today, and on which precise features we collectively wish it to bear in future days, taking into account possible future time circumstances.

Definitely, the new money factor will also be weighed in into the above proposed cold thinking. Thus, in addition to being more thoughtfully appropriate, the outcome will necessarily be made to be much cheaper both for individuals and for the entire community: in terms of a return over an investment more enriching, replacing today’s lightly justified squandering and in many ways a destructive custom.!

Francois-X. Nziyonsenga