Are Rwandan men ‘slow’ in the dating game?

A recent tweet from Olivia Ikilezi (@MsIkilezi), an employee of the New Times sparked off an interesting discussion from netizens. The debate was on whether men in Rwanda were the reason some women were spending a long time single or opting to date foreigners.

In her tweet, Ikilezi called onto men to step up their dating game blaming them for making Rwandan women opt for foreigners. She was perplexed by whether men were just proud, shy or too serious to date.

“Man… Rwandan men please step up ... seriously, this has been the driest dating market I have *ever* experienced, lawd ... I mean! Yall are handsome, intelligent …What’s the problem? Too proud? Too serious?  That’s why our women are leaving for foreigners! #boredtotears,” her tweet read.

Her tweet seemed to have played out as an outcry for many women going by the response garnered by her tweet from women who sided with her opinion.

So, could Rwandan men actually be the reason for the ‘dry dating scene’ in Rwanda?

Jackie Lumbasi, a radio presenter says men are obviously not playing their part and this is the main reason why the dating scene is dull in Rwanda.

She on the other hand thinks that it is the uncertainty of today’s relationships that at times keeps men at bay.

There are times I think men are never too sure on how to deal with women or where to start because they are not sure where it will end, she says.  “A stare or a touch could be interpreted as inappropriate and land them in trouble. As a result they are safer going out as a group of boys and sitting on their own,” Lumbasi adds.

She however observes that it could be their reserved nature leading to all this.

“Even when they are driving, even if there is a woman crossing you will rarely see men give a second look. I find that abnormal.  I am used to a guy checking someone out or even smiling at them.”

Emmanuel Kigenyi, a lawyer agrees with Lumbasi saying that the dating scene in Rwanda is very dull and that men need to step up their game and boost their self-esteem because some are pushed back because they fear rejection from the girls.

He however believes that girls on the other hand shouldn’t be afraid to approach men.

“Girls should also learn that it’s not about the guy asking them out, if they like a guy, they should say it. Overall, young people should learn to be adventurous,’ he adds.

Fiona Kamikazi, a communication specialist on the other hand doesn’t believe that the dating market in Rwanda is “dry” and that the percentage of women dating or marrying foreigners is still very low.

“We need to stop this blame game on who asks first, if you like someone go and tell them. It is 2018, we can’t be vocal about everything else regarding gender equality and shy away when it comes to picking our partners. Some will tell you that they fear rejection but that is part of life, some things will work out and some others won’t,” Kamikazi says.

Blame it on the culture

Pius Rukabuza aka DJ Pius says that he wouldn’t blame any gender for the dry dating scene in Rwanda because it is just the nature of Rwandan people who are naturally reserved.

Unfortunately this is hard to change, it is the way that our cultural heritage is designed and won’t change in the near future. But this is a two way thing; men shouldn’t be the only ones to be blamed, the singer says.

He however believes that dating people from other cultures wouldn’t be a bad idea since it will help Rwandans open up.

“When we meet other people with different cultures for example West Africans, we tend to get out of our shells. So basically it is easier to communicate with someone more engaging than someone who is reserved. I feel like the scientific theory can explain it better,” Rukabuza adds.

TV Presenter Axelle Umutesi begs to differ saying she personally does not think it’s the issue of being shy but rather arrogance and lack of exposure.

“I say this because that happens with Rwandese men who are here not the ones outside Rwanda. So to me, instead of giving me a Rwandan man I would rather go with a foreigner. The Rwandan men who are exposed even treat women better, so the men here are a no go area for me,” Umutesi says.

She hence advises that men in Rwanda need to be exposed and understand that arrogance will take them nowhere.

Bob Rutarindwa, the communications manager at Rwanda Convention Bureau doesn’t believe that the dating market is dry.

“Personally I think expectations of both men and women are different which definitely creates a gap. Take an example, there are lots of beautiful women in Rwanda but why is the majority complaining about dating,” he wonders.

“Could it be that the men are looking for something else beyond the beauty that majority of the beautiful women don’t have? Maybe, so in this case expectations of men could be an issue. Same way women have expectations that the men don’t meet,” Rutarindwa notes.

In this case, Sheila Atukunda advises both parties to step up their game if dating in Rwanda is to change.

“Men need to loosen up and women too need to stop being shy waiting for men to make the first move. We need each other if we are to change this boring dating game.” 

Atukunda also points out the issue of the misinterpreted cause of feminism which at times could be the factor that pushes away men.

“Men like to be dominant. They like to have their opinions respected and when a woman challenges their thinking at times it puts them off. This is however a problem because women are not going to sit on the sidelines just because it is what men need, so what does this mean? Men need to adjust to the new era of women,” she says.