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Are we losing our culture to interracial marriage?

Students perform the Rwandan traditional dance. File.

As the world becomes a tiny village with social media linking two people from either ends of the globe, more people are traveling overseas because of marriage. Many young people willing to take a risk want to break free from the myth that only those who get married from the same culture have stable marriages. Others just want to be different. The result is an increase in interracial marriages.

Gone are the days when there were a few white men or women who lived in the high-brow ends of our communities, married to neighbours we knew or saw from a distance. Now everywhere you go – in the malls, at schools, even in the local market – you can find children of these relationships struggling with their real identity. Differing perspectives will cause some to look down on them, others to wish they had those lovely kids, and more to wonder how these children of mixed heritage will integrate into society.

 

When children are growing up, their parents ensure that they speak their local languages, or at least try to keep up with a few words, and understand the nuances of their culture. They either took a bow or knelt down to greet those older than them. Eating local dishes for dinner around a communal table as parents shared a tale or two about the village life. Today, most children know little or nothing about their roots.  Many are going to schools that promote British or American culture, deliberately paying to learn about other cultures while disregarding their own.

 

A mother of two girls, Helen Kabasinga, said, “You never know what you are losing until one day you realise that your kids are 10 and eight years old, and they know neither the name of your village nor your middle name.”

 

Some parents may not be proud of where they come from. They think their background isn’t the best and don’t want this carried on to the next generation. They’d rather say they are British than from a village in Mutara. Our ancestors gave their children names depending on the circumstances during the birth of the child, but many parents now have abandoned their local names and prefer to give only English names to their kids.

Interracial marriages can be great for our continent: other people can learn about our culture, there’s constant migration and hopefully, investment in our economies as well. You can’t stop people from getting married to people from non-African countries, nevertheless, one can collectively decide that their culture and tradition will be passed on to their kids. You don’t have to visit your village every month, or cook a traditional meal every day, but you can begin one step at a time to give something to your kids that they will never forget.

If we do our jobs as parents while our kids are younger and more receptive, we’ll see them take on the dream to make Africa great again. On the other hand, if we paint a hopeless picture about our continent, they will hold on to another identity they can’t truly call their own. It’s up to parents to integrate different cultures in their marriages and help children celebrate the perfect blend of possibilities within.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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