Celebrating the strength of Rwandan women

When I meet people and they tell me how strong and energetic I am, I always smile to myself. I am not that strong, or at least, I am not arrogant enough to think that my strength or energy comes from me and only me. If I am strong – I received it by default. 
Liban Mugabo
Liban Mugabo

When I meet people and they tell me how strong and energetic I am, I always smile to myself. I am not that strong, or at least, I am not arrogant enough to think that my strength or energy comes from me and only me. If I am strong – I received it by default. 

It’s in my DNA.  I am fortunate – no – I am actually blessed to have been raised by a strong and energetic woman, my mom, who struggled to give me the education she never had, who did her best to discipline and motivate me first into primary school, then high school, but passed away before she could see me go through university. 

With her childlike curiosity, enthusiasm and passion for life, she inspired me to develop persistence every time I was stumbling. Through my own journey of self-discovery I realized that my mother had learnt to show her love not only through hugs and kisses or positive words of encouragement, but through tough, rigid discipline that showed me life had its challenges which needed endurance, determination and tenacity. Today, I recognize all these as wonderful ‘gifts’.

Why am I saying this? Well, the story of my mother is a story of many Rwandan mothers across the country.

With their example of strength and endurance, these wonderful women have taught us never to give up, even in the face of obstacles. But even more importantly, they have passed on to us the courage to dream the dreams they never dared to live out.

Like many other Rwandans, it is my mother that set me on the journey I am on today with her unique Mother’s love filled with drive, focus and discipline. Because of that love, I will most probably have a future that she never had.

Just like many other Rwandan families, we had financial constraints growing up, but this did not deter my mom from ensuring that I had the best in life. Her desire and dream was for me to have what she did not and craved for all her life – education.

This spirit is synonymous with almost all Rwandan mothers. What could have motivated their choice? I believe it is a special love: a mother’s love.

It is sad that for many years I had focused on the ‘dark side’ of my mother’s early departure from this world (loneliness, sadness etc), forgetting her love for me – the love that made her fight when she didn’t have hope, the love that fuelled her strength when she was exhausted, the love that kept her motivating and disciplining me, the love that helped set boundaries when necessary.

Her firm love showed how much she cared about me! Now it is my turn to focus on the gift of love she equipped me with, and focus on how I could make use of them in my journey as a husband and father – hopefully my daughters will one day write a tribute to their father!

To conclude, the role of a Rwandan mother in shaping the values of loyalty, responsibility and of being prepared are timeless in nature. They have guided the previous generations of Rwandans. Although we might fall short from time-to-time, the lessons of our mothers, alive or dead, will forever continue to guide and propel Rwanda to greatness.

liban.mugabo@gmail.com

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