Off the Kabeza- Remera roadway is the Kamisha boutique. Mammie, its proprietor is one of the many dealers in traditional ceremony designs in town. She is busy most weekends decorating her clients’ introduction venues with traditional art.
Talking to Ms Mammie, you observe a sense of pride she holds in the Rwandan culture. She affirms having started such a business just to trade in line of something she cherished most- her culture. I guess that everyone who visits her boutique leaves with a lesson of treasuring the prestigious culture of their land.
And one fact almost hereditary among Africans, is that we are never thrilled by our ‘owns’. Take a glance at ITB 2007 where Rwanda emerged number one in the international cultural gala. I mean, if the rest of the countries were to be honest today, they would admit having admired our culture at the time.
Mammie’s immediate neighbor runs a bistro and on the entryway is the notice ‘Acyira amata y’Igasabo’. This reminds me of an old friend who told me of a commons he visited in Europe.
One of the seats in the park had a faded chalk writing ‘Ibyiza byasigaye I’gasabo’ (the best remained in Gasabo). Maybe the writer was not able to return, but still believed in his mama land; brand it the ‘deep love for one’s culture and country’.
Culture is a top asset Rwanda possesses unknowingly, building on the fact that we are a nation of a regrettable history connecting to ethnicity.
If well handled, this asset will yield unity and become a block for building the nation.
In the current era however, we tend to walk in the footprints of the western world. From lifestyle, through civilization, we try out what the West came up with centuries ago.
The worshipping, social norms and beliefs we had decades ago have also faded out and been replaced by the western recipe.
On the social norms again, we find decline in our values as staining the morality of our youths. Homosexuality, drugs or armed robberies never existed in the original ‘Gasabo’ but with the inspiration from the L.A Goon or 2Pac’s Thug Life we come up with some bizarre lifestyle.
I am not about to say ‘to hell with hip-hop or an upgraded lifestyle’, I will just suggest way of fixing this problem. Nurturing love for own-culture in our babies to check the western morality from deepening roots here.
This way, I am sure the next inspirations will be from my hood to Hollywood. I mean it will be our culture influencing the west.
Taking you overseas again; regions with richer traditions like the Indian subcontinent or the black Arabs, still wed their girls with their virginity seals. So the fact that their culture lives has protected them from being bullied by the wave of AIDS.