Rwandan culture discourages young women from leaving home before they get married. But why is it okay for a young man to leave home before marriage and yet it’s considered an abomination for a young woman? Especially when gender equality is something that we are aiming for?
In an interview with Women Today 23-year-old Christine Mbabazi a second year student at Kigali Institute of Education who also stays with her parents, says that she will not move out of her parent’s home unless she is going to get married.
I think a girl should leave her parent’s home when going to her husband’s place and the parents are the ones to give the authority for her to leave. I respect my parents because they are the people who have watched me grow and took care of me all the days of my life. So I believe they know what’s best for me,” Mbabazi confesses.
“Not only that I want to honour my parents by staying at home, but I least contribute something as a grown up. I think finishing school and start working while staying at home will reduce my unnecessary expenses and help me contribute something to my family‘s welfare” She also opines that a young woman who leaves her parents home before she gets married is likely to become spoilt.
“Everyone in life needs that person who will advise them when they are going astray, so when a girl decides to move away from her parent’s home its like she is inviting all sorts of temptations to come her way,” Mbabazi explains.
She said: “As a way of making my parents happy, I will leave home only when I have shown them their son in law. I believe without doubt this brings blessing upon my life.”
Kanombe resident Lillian Asiimwe, disagrees with Mbabazi. To her when a girl is at university they are independent. She also opposes the idea that a girl should only leave home when she is going to get married.
“The Rwandan culture got it all wrong regarding the fact that a young woman should leave her parent’s home only if she is going to get married. AS much as young men enjoy being independent so do young women,” Asiimwe asserts.
She further stresses that independence helps a young woman to deal with the different challenges in life even before they get married.
“A young woman who has learnt on her own how to manage a home and pay bills can be a great asset for her husband and family. Young women need to get out in the world and gain some experience and they can only attain this kind of experience if they are living on their own. They need to know their strength so that they can find out who they are before they can even become a wife. Currently, men prefer marrying independent women,” Asiimwe reveals.
According to Faith Mbabazi, President of Rwanda Female Journalists Association (ARFEM) a young woman leaving home before they get married is an indicator that Rwandans are trying to be westernised.
“I think it’s not right, I’m a conservative and I strongly believe that in our culture young women should leave their families when they are going to begin families of their own,” Mbabazi expresses.
She said: “The western world has families that are not dependent on children, but here over 90% of the children are the bread winners and have to look after the parents. Let’s keep our traditional values, they are beautiful.”
43-year-old Dorothy Kamaliza will not sleep soundly unless her daughters are sleeping under either her roof or their future husband’s.
“I have four daughters but I’m always worried when it clocks 9pm and my daughters are not home yet. So I wonder if I would sleep knowing they are staying by themselves in some ghetto without even knowing what time they will go back at their place or even how they were going to spend their next day,” Kamaliza explains in a concerned tone.
She said: “Some people think that as a parent not letting your daughter to live on her own is being overprotective but I believe as a parent being strict contributes to proper morals in your children. I know time will come and they will be fully responsible of themselves, but I think the proper time is when she is married and she has someone else to take care of her and protect her.”
The joyous and eloquent mother insisted that having her daughters at home is the best way to protect them. It doesn’t matter that they have finished university and they have good jobs.
“Well I don’t understand a girl who will leave her parents home to show everyone that she is now mature just because she has graduated. I consider this as another way of telling her parents she is tired of their support and guidance and wants to face life on her own. I even think some independent girls are getting spoilt since they are creating privacy for themselves, hiding what they are doing in their day to day life,” says Kamaliza.
“I strongly advise girls who think moving out of their parents house is the best way to be independent and mature to instead consider being responsible, having self-esteem and respecting themselves as the sign of maturity. They shouldn’t be staying in ghettoes and running away from their parents,” Kamaliza advises.