When you have to keep your peace

Though she lost her mother at a very tender age, she has strong memories of her. Memories that always linger in her mind are the ‘golden words’ like she calls them. Words that her mother would emphasise every other day ‘Keep quiet or get despised.’
SILENCE IS GOLD; So the Rwandan culture says
SILENCE IS GOLD; So the Rwandan culture says

Though she lost her mother at a very tender age, she has strong memories of her. Memories that always linger in her mind are the ‘golden words’ like she calls them.
 Words that her mother would emphasise every other day ‘Keep quiet or get despised.’

Silvia Mukeshimana took these words very seriously until this day. She swears upon her life than going against the ‘golden words’ that keep her mother’s memory.

Holding her head high and swinging her arms proudly, the girl boasts of having lived her 21 years without speaking out to people about her problems!

Though an orphan, Mukeshimana prefers doing whatever she can to sort out her problems than tell!

Though profound, the ‘keep silent or risk being despised’ are very common words to a typical Rwandan. During early childhood, the highest moral lesson taught is being quiet on everything.

Many legends emphasise the benefits of handling everything with silence and the hazards related to talk as a means of solving solutions.

According to Straton Karangwa, silence is as old as Rwanda itself. Recalling his great grandfather’s story, The King would send out spies to neighbouring kingdoms. He would emphasise on them only listening but not talk.

“As a sign that they would be loyal to the king’s command, they would take a piece of wood that they would take with them in their mouth so as to avoid talking,” says Karangwa.

Since then, silence has been a solution to almost every problem.

Kurenzaho like its called resolves arguments, problems and people are so contented when they do it this way.

Unlike some cultures where a talkative person is rated for being social, in Rwanda once you talk a lot you are never to be trusted.

“A person who talks a lot ends up spilling secrets,” says Leah Mukamurigo.

Kinya-rwanda is so rich with words that highly condemn big time talkers. The likes of abakunda kubumvira ubusa {people who love being heard out but not helped}, banyamagambo {rumor mongers} and many others.

Even when the worst happens, a true Rwandan would rather die than discuss it! Where I grew up in Uganda, a person telling you their secrets was a sign of total trust to you but never in Rwanda. Is it that people don’t trust each other?

Well it’s the culture and tradition. Even when a person badly insults you, just keep mum and don’t show you’re hurt!

The culture of silence has greatly affected Rwandans though only a few think of quitting it.

“Many parents don’t have clear communication with their children. Husbands and wives barely know each other. They have sacrificed all for the tradition of silence,” says Bienvenue Kalisa.

The golden rule of silence doesn’t deal with trust. If you trust a person you tell but who can ever be trustworthy! Yes, silence has made relatives total strangers to each other.

They talk what’s essential; what shall we eat and Good morning but when it comes to heart to heart talks, no one speaks to the other!

Iike they say, speech is silver and silence is gold but too much silence is….

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