Happy Mothers’ Day for Mama wa mama wanjye…

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My Grandmother raised me. My mum and dad lived abroad but I didn’t mind, my Grandmother was my home. She always spoke to me in Kinyarwanda, our language of origin. I couldn’t really speak it, I only understood hers. – and responded in Kiswahili or French – she couldn’t speak French either, but understood mine. I had a happy childhood, I was the only baby in the house, surrounded by many uncles and aunties. There were always other aunties and uncles who came over and many cousins and later a young brother, but it was no secret that I was her favorite; she called me her fiancé.. My mum gave me many nicknames too, but I’ll never reveal them   ????

No one ever laid a hand on me, at least in her presence; one day I doodled on my uncle Louis’ university syllabuses and he wanted to beat me – he was banished from the house for about a week; for just an ‘attempt’. Ninde wavuze umwana w’umwana wanjye – who said anything bad about the baby of my baby; that’s how she told them off. When she wanted to call me, she would go through the list of all her children first, Joseph – um mama – Julien – um mama Louis – um mama Jean… – mama Thierry, she called me. I went with her to the morning mass – the famous ‘misa ya mbere’ at the neighborhood catholic parish; Every time I left for a long time, I knelled and she made a cross with her thumb on my forehead. All my uncles who went to the war to liberate our country, received that blessing and they all came back: intact! There was nothing like it! I remember walking through the dangerous streets of Johannesburg, at 20, feeling totally invincible because of my grandmother’s blessings; I didn’t believe in God, I believed in my Grand mother. She was so pretty. Oh I miss you so much Tate. Happy belated Mothers’ day to Mama wa mama wanjye…

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