Dear Abarundi, Rwandans you should know

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My mom told me to always respect and learn from people who go out of their way to help others without expecting anything in return.

‘Erega mwana gufasha uwo utitezeko ikintu ni rwo rukundo’  she said

We live in a very complex society. It’s  all about personal gain.

Three weeks ago, I landed in Philadelphia with my goddaughter. As I was trying to keep an eye on her, I heard my nickname. ‘Judy’ which is not really my name, is a common name here, I then kept going towards the terminal.

Judicaelle… Judicaelle’

I stopped, looked behind and saw this man. Let’s call him Peter. I met him in Kigali. We had lunch and discussed like old friends. Peter is married. His wife lives in Pittsburg. When I met him, he was planning to visit her.
Yoo Peter yambi’  I hugged him.
We were excited to see each other again. Six months ago, I wished him good luck for his visa application and he wished me back success in starting my organization. We both have realized our wishes. Peter is in America to see his wife. And I am travelling back to Rwanda for my organization.
What I haven’t told you yet is how Peter is my hero, a Rwandan you all should know.
He is a living proof of love.
It was on Tuesday around 6pm. I was at UTC, waiting for my sister. A young man approached me. Let’s call him Herve. ‘Uri Judicaelle?’ he asked. Apparently he knew me but that’s another story. I conversed with Herve who through my persistent questions, shared his story. Herve survived the crisis in Burundi. He was jailed for fours months, then was miraculously released that’s when he fled to Rwanda without anything. He met Peter a certain morning  at UTC. Peter somehow figured out that Herve was a homeless and he truly was at that time.
You could have seen Herve’s eyes full of gratitude when he was talking of Peter. Tears were moving. And nothing is sexier than an emotional man. I asked Herve if he could have supper with me. We shared a meal, then picked my sister and we drove to Peter’s house.

Kicukiro is where they live. Trust me when I tell you that I wasn’t ready for what I learned that night. My emotions were all over the place. I cry all the times and when I start, I honestly can’t stop.
Almost twenty people were sitting in the living room. Herve presented me but they knew about me ( thanks to my fundraising project for Lycee Kiganda). We started talking about Burundian politics. Peter was holding a baby. At first, I thought they were guests, then I was informed how they were received by Peter. I am talking about four families in a four bedroom house. Peter wasn’t sleeping in his bed anymore but you could have seen joy in his eyes. I learned as well how Peter received at first three families  when the crisis started.  He wasn’t related to them, he didn’t know them. He used his saving accounts to make sure the three families reached Kampala safe.

I left Peter’s house, amazed, speechless. I couldn’t believe such human beings still exist. During our lunch, I asked Peter the reason behind his gold actions ? his response was simple and clear ‘ I know how it is to be a refugee. I know how hard life in refugee camps can be. If I can save someone from going through it, I will gladly do it’

 

 

Until next time,

Take care

 

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Men are trash

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‘Is she serious now? from tweets to a whole article ? ‘

‘ Wow, who’s the dude who messed up with her?’

‘ why does she hate men so much? ’

‘ the title is an insult, my man is not trash. She can speak for herself ‘

‘ Oh  her dad is trash then? ‘

 

 

There goes some replies I get whenever I tweet ‘Men are Trash’. I mentioned the decent ones. Some really get triggered by the slogan, end up insulting. We have made twitter an open microphone we use to reflect the darkness of our souls. We find joy into hating people we’ve never met. We also allow strangers behind a screen to project their fears and their insecurities into our lives. But it’s not that deep or maybe it is.

Men are trash is an anti-patriarchal movement. It is not an individual critique but a system critique, screaming out loud without any filter : Male privilege is trash. It is the angry sound of women who are tired of misogyny and the whole system who endorses it. It has nothing to do with the ‘good’ men in our lives. They are not the exception of a system which oppresses and marginalize women. The truth is some women are woke now. The cycle has been going on for ages. We feel stuck, trapped in a dark room where we want to see the other side. Is there any light? How would this world be if our society wasn’t patriarchal? What kind of men, boys would become if they weren’t raised to feel more of men by walking over women? How would women be if they had all this freedom they long for? We wonder , we strive and we dream.

The movement is not based on love relationships. They aren’t the only interaction we have with men. We have brothers, workmates, co-workers,.. Women are not being oppressed by their partners only. There is the boss who won’t give you a promotion unless you sleep with him. The colleague who harasses every day. You can’t truly breathe if you’re a woman. You live in constant fear.

 

Last year in December, I travelled to Rwanda and If you know me, you probably know I ask a lot of questions and talk a lot. I am just curious by nature. My family and I were in this boat, enjoying a tour in Lake Kivu. The tour guide showed us a place in the lake called ‘akarwa k’abakobwa’, where they used to throw girls who were pregnant before marriage. I acted naïve like I always.

‘ How about the boys? were they punished as well?’ I asked

‘ Well, boys were innocent ‘ the tour guide replied

Society always condemns the woman for getting pregnant and rarely the father. I was reminded, history is a living proof of how women were maltreated. Human history is briefly a history of misogyny. The hatred of women was expressed through discrimination, physical abuse, objectification and many more examples. Women were denied simple human rights because they were considered less to men. Go through your bible. The old testament has many misogynist stories. Starting with the story of Adam and Eve. Adam played the victim, leaving Eve as the evil and manipulative. Just like a man can rape a woman then justifies it by how sexy the woman’s dress was. The writings of some Greek philosophers  also shows how sexist, the world was back then.

However, Women were once in power positions in the old world before male dominated leadership. We find in history, feminine powers in pre-roman era and goddesses in Greek mythology. The Ancient Egypt was as well one of the greatest female monarchs. Such as Cleopatra whom history regard as one of the most powerful rulers Egypt has ever had. The queen managed her country while the roman empire tried to take over.

When did misogyny merge? When were women pushed back? No one can answer it. Because Misogyny emerged through multiples cultures, with the uneven roles of today.

 

My second week in Kigali I had my hair done at this saloon where a conversation took place. A woman shared how she always goes at the bar whenever it’s midnight to get her husband. My scary self of marriage was quiet, over thinking how I would go at the bar to remind a grown man to come home to the woman he married. She was pregnant by the way. My big mouth was about to say something when the other woman who was doing my hair said:

‘Oh really? You go get your husband? you are spoiled. My husband can leave on Friday and come back Sunday night. It doesn’t bother me anymore as long as he comes home.’

I WAS SHOCKED. Women have become enforcers and defenders of patriarchy. We have become our own oppressors. We have settled for abusive partners. Mu Kirundi bavuga ngo niko zubakwa. Then we simply have embraced the system. We actually contribute into misogyny without knowing it.

Today, our society is characterized by women’s underrepresentation in key institutions, higher positions plus male violence. Women have become comfortable with the lower position. But again it’s the heritage we get from our mothers – Silence. Don’t be too loud, do anything society sees as okay for a woman.

As deep as I have been rooting for the ‘Men are trash ‘ movement, the fight isn’t easy. There is religion, culture, situations, which made women make peace with the oppressor. We saw how our mothers, grandmothers, went out of their way to defend their men even when there were bruises on their faces. We inherited it. We claim ‘ not my man’ just because our partner is acting like a normal human being. We brag about it because we know it’s rare. We praise our male friends when we can get drunk and reach home safe with them. Yet, we claim ‘not all men’, when we know deep down we don’t really feel safe with the men in our lives. We need a total mindset transformation.

Meanwhile, the focus should be more on the next generation. Educate the boys, turn them into good men. Empower the girls, push them to see far than being someone’s wife. Redefine womanhood, raise visionary girls who won’t allow gender to interfere into their journey.

 

I am for the ‘Men are trash’ movement. I vowed to support any movement fighting for women. The name is truly my favorite. It brings attention. What is a trash? Something you shouldn’t use anymore. The name itself screams that the system of today cannot be fixed, it needs to be thrown. The men of today can’t be brought to reason, we should then invest into little boys. And yes, the future is female.

 

Until next time,

Take Care