It has been said that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, so today I will become my own beholder and refer to myself as a very beautiful woman. We recently witnessed a cabinet reshuffle that saw some ministries done away with, other ministers being moved to different ministries and several newcomers joining the cabinet. The nature of the cabinet gender-wise is 50/50. Kudos to the fountain of honour for continuing to give women a voice. What makes it even better is that most of the female newcomers are young, brilliant (going by their CVs) and beautiful. A guy tweeted a photo of the new Minister for Trade with the caption, ‘She’s youthful and...’. I silently filled the gap with ‘beautiful’ because she is. Frankly speaking, before I knew her name, post or academic and professional qualifications, I saw her beautiful smile, the most beautiful gap I had ever seen (because I am traditional and I think gaps are cute) and such big bright eyes. The kind of woman I (as a beholder) will see and thank God for doing such a wonderful job. The following day while talking to a colleague of mine about the cabinet reshuffle, he remarked that the tweet was disrespectful and that it had sexualised the new minister. I was so taken aback and wondered how is it a crime to say someone is beautiful? He informed me that the Rwandan woman takes offence when such things are said about them. Pardon my ignorance but I had assumed that the Rwandan woman is like most women and would appreciate being told they are beautiful.
My colleague’s reaction therefore begged the question, why do we try so hard to make life difficult? The average Rwandan woman knows that globally the one thing that is said about Rwandan women is how beautiful they are. Online rankings of countries with the most beautiful women will always have Rwanda somewhere at the top. How then can we stop our own people from saying how beautiful their women are? By the way, is it offensive only when it is said by a man or even by a fellow woman? I have some very beautiful women in my life, women whose beauty I marvel at and am not afraid to tell them. I also have some good looking men and I’m not afraid to tell them either. It is always a nice feeling to see someone blush as they take that compliment.
As I continue to find my feet in this beautiful country, I think we need to stop hiding behind this huge curtain of ‘Rwandan society this, Rwandan society that’. While every society has its culture and norms, too many do’s and don’ts end up making social interactions rather plastic. For instance, I was once told not to mispronounce a word or a Rwandan name because people will be very mad at me. How am I expected to learn the correct pronunciations without making a few mistakes on my journey to pronunciation heaven? That was a side rant, so coming back to the main issue I say that the new Minister for Trade is beautiful and that does not mean I have not noticed how intelligent or competent she is. She has just been appointed so her performance in the docket will be judged as time goes by but for now let us appreciate God’s beautiful creation. If men will not be allowed to tell women they are beautiful to whom will they say such things; their gadgets, cars or trees? I’m out!
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