Everyone shouts in excitement as they dance to Davido’s latest hit ‘Skelewu’. In their skimpy outfits, every girl is involved in some activity. Some tightly hold their male friends as they dance leaving no space between the two bodies, others are drowned in alcohol, while a few more are either wiping sweat from their faces or catching some breath after electric dances. What is not in shortage is alcohol and bites.
The smile on everyone’s face summarises the mood. It is clear from the attire, reaction and atmosphere that everyone in attendance is having a good time. The venue is a private home in one of the upscale areas in Kigali.
But this is just a tip of the iceberg. Every holiday, students hold holiday bashes (some in the open others in secret) across the country to simply have FUN and COOL OFF after a long term.
How they are organised
“Students coordinate all activities through a committee that is elected democratically before school breaks off. The coordinator becomes the leader and by default controls finances,” says Eloi Mugabe, a student at College du Christ roi in Nyanza.
Mugabe, who has attended more than three of such parties, says after a committee has been selected to organize the party, students are quietly updated on the venue, fees and date on social media platforms such as Facebook and Watsapp. He says they also continue to mobilize each other physically since most of them don’t stay very far from each other.
Diana Munezero, a student at Wellspring Academy, also admits that social media always plays a major role in their search for happiness and unity.
“All plans are shared through social media. Issues such as funding, venue, duration of party and dress code are discussed on Facebook and Watsapp groups,” Munezero says, adding that they are mostly organized by candidate classes.
She, however, notes that not all parties happen without the knowledge of parents and teachers.
“Some parents have no problem with these parties as long as they end early,” Munezero reveals. “
Source of money
Since most of the parties do not meet the expectations of parents and teachers, students try to be as secretive about them as possible. But one thing remains for sure: money. Education Times tried to establish how these non-working students manage to buy drinks and food that are always in plenty.
Mugabe and Munezero for instance, both agree that some parents support these bashes.
“Some parents give their children money to participate only if the party is held during day time and on condition that they also attend so that they can watch their children closely,” Mugabe says.
“Other parents let their homes serve as a venue as long as they think it helps their child bond with friends,” Munezero notes.
However, Moses Habimana, a student at Amir Des effants, says there are other ways of raising funds.
“Most parties cost between Rwf1000 and Rwf10, 000 depending on the venue so some people can afford to pay for two or more people. Some students save that money from their pocket money while others are supported by their elder but youthful brothers and sisters,” Habimana says.
Helen, a university student who used to organize such parties while in secondary school, hints on a worrying way of raising the money for fun.
“Some students deceive their parents that they have an emergency which needs immediate attention. Out of love, the gullible parents happily part with the ‘beer money’,” says Helen, who asked not to be named for fear of being hounded by students for spilling their secrets.
She, however, notes that a number of students work during the holiday hence being able to raise that money on their own.
What happens there?
According to our sources, these parties are the epitome of maximum fun.
“Unlike school parties which are punctuated with many speeches and warnings about how we should behave, holiday parties are about having as much fun as possible. You dress and dance the way you like without restriction,” Helen reveals.
She adds that one is free to drink, smoke or have sex.
However, one head girl of a school in the Eastern Province says some level of caution is taken at these parties. She says each one watches over their friends to avert any trouble.
“We cannot allow our friends to have unprotected sex because of the risks involved. Besides, if one of us drinks too much liquor and blacks out or dies, we could all land in trouble,” she says.
What government thinks about parties
The Ministry of Education has strict guidelines concerning any events that students wish to take part in.
Thereste Twahirwa, an advisor to the Minister of Education, says learners need to be monitored by an elder in most cases.
“Pupils in primary should always be accompanied by their parents to these parties,” Twahirwa says.
“Students in secondary should seek permission from their parents. They must also fill in their parents on the purpose of the party, where it will take place and what exactly will happen there,” Twahirwa says. “Parents should set rules and monitor their children wherever they are.”
Students, parents and teachers speak out
Students know that these parties are generally not encouraged by teachers and parents and yet they have the desire to have them. So in order to avoid trouble, students have learnt how to fly without perching.
“No stranger is allowed at such an event. You must really be so close to one of the students to go passed the gate,” Maria Uwase, a student at ETO Kikuciro, says.
Uwase, however, is quick to calm any fears. “We converged at some place at noon, had food, drinks, music, and then went back home before 6:00pm. But of course some parties go beyond that time,” she says.
For Fred Kalisa, a parent, such uncontrolled gatherings rarely produce any good.
“Sometimes students misbehave at such parties. They drink alcohol, smoke and have unprotected sex with fellow students,” he says, adding that students should not always be allowed to do whatever they want.
“Ultimate freedom doesn’t apply in such cases unless both the student and the parent are ready to reap negatively from the excitement,” he notes.
According to Kalisa, parties are not bad per se, but the problem is how much time one spends there.
Just like many respondents argued, Jackie Nantetse, a teacher and employee at the Institute of the National Museum of Rwanda, believes students need adequate surveillance when participating in these parties.
“Things like the dress code, and the venue should be regulated. But for as long as they are monitored, students can learn a lot from each other during such events,” Nantetse adds.
Your say on holiday bashes
I don’t support holiday parties because students usually engage in unbecoming behaviour. They normally drink alcohol, engage in sexual activities and consume drugs which is dangerousto them. Ideally, those parties should be organised by the school and supervised by teachers.
Betty Mukakimenyi, a student
I don’t go for any holiday parties. I instead sit home and spend some time with my mum. After a number of months away from home, I always want to be with her as much as possible because I love her so much. I can also rest without engaging in any of that crazy stuff.
Holidays bashes are good because they help students interact more closely and relax after a tiresome term. When students are at school they read so hard for three months. So why shouldn’t they meet for a drink during the holiday?
Holiday parties for students are good because they bring many students from different schools together. This enables them to share notes on various aspects of life. Such useful platforms are rare.
Holiday parties are good because they refresh the mind and prepare it for the following term. Children need events that can bring them together outside the classroom. I believe parents should support their children in all areas of life — academics and social life. They say work without play makes Jack a dull boy.
Holiday parties have never been bad. We know some wrong people sometimes take advantage of them to mislead girls but if the organisers are serious, it can be averted. There are many advantages of such parties.