If our predecessors happened to pay us a visit today to see how their great grandsons and daughters are doing, they would drown in shock because they would not recognize any of their offspring’s!
They would look around for their macho sons, African-skinned beautiful daughters with African locks (Dreadlocks) only to see, a breed of metropolitan people! The sight of men with shinny shaved heads would be distressful because they would think something awful had happened, since shaving heads was only done when a loved one was lost, or as a punishment.
Imagine their perplexity on seeing young men with plaited hair and shinny ear pins, bouncing on the streets alongside their sisters with bleached skin—beautiful pitch-black skin turns yellowish pink—walking tilted in pairs of stilettos. More perplexity would be during communication because slang would have banished the velvety dialogue of our ancestors.
Wait a minute! A flick of a smile would appear on their primeval faces when they see the ladies with dreadlocks, they would hurry and stop them, “my daughter what is your name?” of course she would find it difficult to respond because she hardly understands what the grannies are saying. Because she is accustomed and fluent in foreign languages, she would say her name is Angel Kay Sharons, “whose Daughter are you?” they would insist, “John Peter of Kisimenti” would be the spine-breaking answer.
When non-Rwandans came to Africa, they brought a lot of good things, but over the years we have been idolizing so much of it that we are forgetting our rich heritage—I must say the love of our continent is waning!
I remember back in my junior high school, students would be beaten up and given harsh punishment for speaking our mother tongue! I understand, that they claimed it was for our own good, but I could not see how wise and respectful it was to rebuke and de-mean your heritage and welcome someone else’s.
Sadly over the years, things did not change for better, but only got worse! Parents no longer teach their children the value of being African, the preciousness of their motherland. They no longer have time to pass on the brave stories of the ancient wars, and of how their great grandfathers shed blood trying to protect their soil. How with spears, sharp bows and arrows fought everyone who wanted to deride this great continent! Nowadays parents have ashamedly traded these great stories that once filled them with pride and bravely for Tom & Jerry.
When I joined high school, I was told that my surname—the name that has been passed on from generation to generation to become mine—was a ‘pagan’ name and that the one I got from a stranger who baptized me was the Christian and cool one!
Though it wasn’t spelt unwaveringly that everything black and African was of little value, I grasped it from every sentence I heard, every book I read, and in every lyric I heard.
When I discovered the meaning of the terms ‘black sheep’ or, the ‘black book’ and ‘black market’ were associated with bad and terrible things. I also wondered why donning black attire when attending a funeral ceremony was just a coincidence. I also noticed that to win in a game of billiard, a white ball had to hit a black one! And if they both entered the hole, then things weren’t good.
It is common saying that, ‘one can’t know where he’s going unless he knows where he came from’. Rwandans should teach the children to love their continent, country and the skin they live in. Just as the African proverb says, “Do not call the forest that shelters you a jungle.” Let them know that speaking their local languages is not shameful.
Interest them in reading the rich African history, help them explore the prized wisdom hidden in African proverbs, quotes and sayings, and there’s no better way of doing this than practicing what we preach.