We are opinionated, free thinking, well read and carry internet savvy. We are also hard-working party animals-and that isn’t a contradiction of any kind.
We are young and ready to take on the world. “Ladies and Gentlemen, Give a Grand Welcome to the Rwanda’s New Generation”! But wait, I see a few detractors, or as we young people call, ‘haters’, who look at us like we are some kind of aliens from mars.
The detractors are usually the so-called older generation of Rwandans. The older chaps, who include our very own parents, think that we are ‘unserious’ and rather petty to boot.
They can’t understand our spending habits and our penchant for going out every evening. “Why can’t they be like us”, our parents bemoan. I actually think that our parents should be rather pleased that we are nothing like them.
I’m not saying that I don’t admire them for the things they have accomplished because I do. However, I think that some of our parents have what I call a “refugee mentality”.
I am not belittling at all what they went through in places like Nyakivale and Chaka because those conditions were horrendous.
For anyone to have survived those places and in fact, gotten an education, raised a family and then as refugees, had the guts to overthrow a dictatorship, speaks volumes about the kind of people they were; and are still.
But what were the attributes that made all this possible in the harsh world of the camps? A single goal (to go back home), a sense of community (you had no choice but to love your people because no one else loved you), a thriftiness (no matter how well off you were it was in bad taste to spend while your siblings needed school fees) and a healthy respect for authority (when you spoke up you’d be jailed and hounded out of the country).
And despite the fact that we are now back home, these lessons haven’t been lost to the older generation.
The only problem is when these lessons that you learnt the hard way are the same ones that you wish to impart to your children.
Certainly, some of them are positive but, as someone who was raised in the Diaspora with those lessons being drummed into my head, I’m not sure whether they are still relevant in the Rwanda of today.
I may be naïve but I think that the ‘refugee mentality’ should be ditched and a more ‘normal’ one pursued. This sure this ‘normalcy’ has brought some negatives; the once’ unified’ Rwandan refugee community, that visited each other almost every day, has disintegrated into small family units that ‘mind their own business’.
That however, is about the only off-putting result of coming home in my opinion.
As a young man living in the Rwanda of today, I walk about without a care in the world other than where and when I’m getting my next pay cheque, where and on what I’m going to spend that pay on and, all in all, how I’m going to get ahead in the competitive world.
I know it sounds shallow and such but don’t you think that perhaps that’s the greatest triumph of you, our elders?
Because you couldn’t enjoy the same kinds of opportunities that we have, we, young people, can. Because you never enjoyed your youth, we can.
Certainly, its seems as if we don’t know the blessings we have…but isn’t that a wonderful thing. I’m sure that it’s an extraordinary young person in any European capital that still is influenced in his/her lifestyle by the suffering of their parents during the Second World War.
Sure their parents saved the world from fascism; but they saved the world so that their children could live normal lives. And how do normal young people behave?
Irresponsibly, at least, according to the older folks.
Because we don’t save and scrooge we are the consumption motor that will drive this nation forward.
Because we have no fear of the state machinery, we can question the leaders when the status quo isn’t to our liking. Because we are exposed, we are the innovators that will give us a chance to actually rise to the challenge of Vision 2020.
“I say, HAIL THE YOUNG….we are your best chance”! It scares you doesn’t it?