A couple of years ago in university, my social psychology lecturer drummed this sentence into my head – “we are the sculptures of our society”. Today I add, “….and we can be the sculptors of our society.”
Rwanda has made her firm mark in the African continent and the world as a country that believes in the power of the woman.
Even as I write, there are forums carried out all over Rwanda to visibly empower the woman, girl-child and the middle-class female earner.
Our government hosts a considerable percentage of women in political seats and as the country evolves-so do the chances of women following their dreams.
Gone are the days when women would live in fear of watching their innocence snatched away through forced marriages. The rural woman is now a bread-winner for her family, while her husband begins to learn new skills that can enhance his talent in farming.
The working class woman today, can compete in a man’s world and win. Truck driving is now a job for both sexes. And even better, the world has accepted women as countries’ leaders.
When I see all these opportunities staring back at me like ripe fruit- I enjoy the feeling of making the choice of which one to pick, because I know that my chances of success are limitless.
How do I measure success? I measure it in depth-how it starts, it grows, stands today and how it will look like tomorrow. Successes are both personal and professional.
Agreeably, every man and woman would say that they are dictated by society they live in and are obliged to live within the society ethics. But in the same breathe- every individual can sculpt the society according to what they believe is right and ethical.
Let us explore this possibility through discussing about the sensitive issue of marriage, marital status and the rationale behind the decision to make the big step into a life-long “death-do-us-part” commitment.
As always, I’ll share one my personal experiences. While enjoying a leisurely trip in the hills of Rwanda, I had a rather brief but very intense conversation with one of my old friends-who is happily married now.
The gentleman explained to me that I needed to settle down (marriage) and get that phase of my life out of the way. At first I laughed-thinking that this was a sad attempt at getting to know the latest in my life, until I looked into his eyes and realized that the man was dead serious! He thought I should “get married and get that phase in my life over with”.
As we parted ways, I couldn’t help but dwell on this thought some more-marriage in my friend’s mind was a phase I have to get out of the way. I decided to throw the question at some female friends- and the responses were more or less similar.
According to them, Rwandan women had to routine plan- finish university, get a good middle income job, find the right man-have children and the rest is just a part of the happy ending in everyone’s life.
One of them even stressed that when you apply for a job, you have more chances of getting it if your status read, “Married”, so it was advisable to marry as quickly as possible.
When I looked at the age groups of my friends in question-I was surprised to see that the majority were younger than me- and I am in my late 20s.
Did I miss the bus of life’s patterns? As a woman in Rwanda, I pride myself in being part of the marathon to success. I believe that I have limitless opportunities to win; I just have to find them.
The element of marriage is a personal achievement that I see as one of my successes, which means that it should be handled just as seriously and patiently as all the achievements one wants to have.
During a recent interview, I was asked, “Who are you?” I focused on myself as a woman achiever who is an asset-to myself first and to then to the world that I live in.
I see all of life’s experiences as enhancements to my personal being, and as such, I work hard to use each lesson learnt, as a step up the ladder of achievement.
Marriage is an important step that we women have to climb-but one has to remember, it should be done at the right time and for the right reasons.
Aesop’s fables, tells a story about a fox who wanted the mangoes from a tree, but because of impatience, he ended up picking the raw ones instead-because they were nearer to the ground.
In the end, the moral of the story was, “If you take a huge bite of the nearest fruit to the ground-you will discover that it is bitter-while the sweetest shall still hangs high up in the tree.”
Marriage is a huge achievement and blessing, if done in the right circumstances. It requires patience, a sense of readiness and preparation to make sacrifices for a lifetime responsibility.
I have seen marriages where women are more dependent on their men –whereas they could have been in situations where their marriages could have been interdependent.
I have read cases of children suffering due to broken marriages, and even worse, becoming alcoholics due to their parents’ neglect of them.
I have seen people lose their self esteem after making rash moves into hasty marriage arrangements. And the one that hurts the most is women and men losing their chances at being greater than they are-because they lacked the patience to wait before making that life-long step.
One must always remember, marriage is a commitment-to be understood, respected, maintained and guarded like it was your personal treasure.
We all know that our African tradition and society shows marriage as a symbol of respect, status and at best an acceptance of high regard, in the society that you live in.
Today’s world is made up of people with a different mindset and with different dreams. The walls that built a marriage in the past are not the same in the present -a marriage today is much harder to maintain and requires a much stronger foundation to grow in.
So to my friend and the readers, let us sculpt societal beliefs to take on the curves of our individual sentiments. If you are among those who see marriage as an act, “to just get out of the way”, you need to think again.