I can’t live in Rwanda for the rest of my life.

Why can’t I live in Rwanda for the rest of my life? Let me count the reasons. There’s a list I’ve written to remind myself and show anyone if they get really persistent that I stay in country. When people suggest me staying these days, I give them my top two reasons why I can’t live here. Number one: I cannot live the rest of my life being called a rich, white, foreigner every day. Just not possible. I’m going crazy dealing with it for just two years, how can I put up with it for another 50? There are people who try to convince me that eventually everyone would know who I was and cease to call me a muzungu but I don’t think I will live to see that day. Sure, all of my neighbors and the people at my church and the shopkeepers in the village can and have all learned my name or at least not to call me a muzungu. But I still get called muzungu each and every day I live in Rwanda – and venture out of my house that is. If I never left my house I obviously wouldn’t have to deal with this issue or just wouldn’t hear them saying it out in the village. I know celebrities get recognized and mobbed by fans, but this is different. Fans know celebrities’ names and know that the celebrity is not going to invite them over to their house for dinner. The fans just want to say hello, shake their hand, maybe get an autograph. That kind of fame I can deal with: the little kids shout my name and run up to greet me and shake my hand all the time. That’s fine. It’s just when the idiots who are visiting my village yell out foreigner that I get upset. “Umm, ‘foreigner’ you say? I live here. Where are you from?” Rwandans think that when I say I can’t live in their country forever and always it’s because I miss America, my friends and family there, and the culture. While I do miss those things, that’s not it. I could be happy living in Europe or Australia or anywhere else where white people are accepted as part of the community. Take for example, my three weeks in Europe which were a blessed break from being called a foreigner – though I really was a tourist there! You cannot fully understand this point unless you live for over a year where everyone continues to insist upon calling you an outsider everyday in the country you consider home.
My second reason for not being able to continue to live in Rwanda is the fact that that would mean never finding a husband. Not that I can’t find a young man willing to marry me (there’s a long line of eligible suitors vying for my affections and I even get proposals from married men, too), but it’s just that in the culture here – at least out in the countryside – is that when you agree to date someone you are actually agreeing to marry them. In their minds, if they’re a “serious” person, when a young man asks a girl to be his “friend” he has observed her from afar long enough to know that he wants to marry her. And barring some catastrophe or untold secret that comes to light, the two will be considered engaged after just three months and the entire village will expect the wedding just as soon as the young man can afford it.
There are plenty of other reasons why I can’t stay here, but I figure those first two are more than enough reason to come back to America.

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~ by twcstars on December 9, 2011.

14 Responses to “I can’t live in Rwanda for the rest of my life.”

  1. COMPLETELY TRUE!!!! I am Rwanda and this is more than 100% true. “Date” is not such a thing. People see your girlfriend as your wife but that’s also because when you ask a get out, she starts thinking about marriage and if you’re not planning marriage, you’re branded “nit serious”.

  2. this has nothing to do with anything above but im doing a french project on rwanda and dont know if you guys from rwanda can help but i would like to know the housing, location, contrys flag, climate, your cultural cuisine/foods, and clothing worn if possible. that would be great 🙂

    • Hey Leslie, how can we help you exactly?
      you need photos or just to explain by texts..

    • Location you hopefully already know. The flag and climate are easily found online – the climate varies from the northwest to the southeast. Housing and food differ a little based on location and economic status. Not sure what all/how much you want to know. I don’t know who Charly is, but I lived there for a little over 2 years in a rural village in the western part of the country.

      • I live in Kigali and i ‘ve been living here for more than 10 years..

      • There’s nothing to worry about Rwanda. It’s a beautiful place with a moderate climate. No too hot, not too cold. The food is alright it depends on what you like. What I like the most about this country is that people do not see white folks as strangers, contrary to other African countries.

        Come apart and stay for a while

      • Exactly!! Rwanda is simply Rwandaful.. 🙂

  3. the first reason is somewhat true but the second one… i don’t think so.
    I’ve been living in Rwanda for over 15 years and i know that asking a girl out doesn’t mean that you are going to get married, you may just be friends or date for a short time

  4. So sad to hear that in the 21st century there are people who still see difference by just the color of skin. I mean this is really insane!. Someone good-hearted people have the courage to live their home and make your country their second home and you waste your time calling them strangers?! Come on let’s be humans.

    For me, Rwanda losing someone like you is just a miss and a miss is as huge as a mile.

    • I’m not sure who you are, but if only more Rwandans could get behind your modern thinking. As much as I like living here and the people in my village, what I will miss about Rwanda doesn’t stretch much past my umudugudu.

      ________________________________

  5. I wish there was a like button for the above comment

    • Haha, thanks Amy! I think they recently added a “like” feature, but really I have trouble loading everything and understanding new additions. Sorry I haven’t been updating, but thanks for reading and being supportive!

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  6. I can’t remember having read a more powerful commentary about the challenge of diversity and feeling different. When you return home to the U.S., I imagine you will be a powerful champion for valuing people for who they are, not how they appear. I hope to get to see you and talk about it then.

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