My experience as a young Rwandan living in the Diaspora

Revolutions are started by 3% only. That’s all I need for our fights. Thank you young brother Raoul NGARAMBE. I know there are a few out there like you. We start, they will follow, when it is safe to come out…

‘Hi Gatete. You don’t know me but I’m someone who’s inspired by what you do. I’m writing to you to support your views so I apologize for the length of this text in advance. I’m a young (19) student in America and I first heard/saw you in one of Eugene Anangwe’s debates, which I watch whenever I miss Rwanda.

I started following you on Twitter. I have not always agreed with your views but I am tremendously inspired by your patriotism and your Pan Africanist ideas. Keep sharing those, because the youth of Africa needs to be imbued with with the values that are shared through your tweets.

I am writing to you because I saw the reaction many people had to your tweets on the diaspora. While the tone seemed light, I liked the fact that you raised an important issue. I live outside my country and I have noticed how the Rwandan diaspora dies to stand out. People who have left Rwanda as adults/teenagers forget Kinyarwanda; others unceasingly compare Rwanda to over there; and as you have pointed out they (consciously and unconsciously) paint a picture of Africa that is dominated by misery and neediness. While poverty is a reality that we are still tackling in Rwanda, we are not a nation of beggars.

I like the fact that you defend that idea. Also, I like the issue that you raised about the mental emancipation of the Diaspora. I do not see myself as Diaspora, but I do live 9/12 months in Rwanda so I guess I technically am. I’m starting to figure out their ways. They see themselves as superior simply because they live “à l’étranger, hanze “. The concept that everything that is foreign, especially white, is better is a colonial legacy that we must vomit.

How have we as a people come to view cleaning bathrooms in the West as superior to being a surgeon, an engineer or a lawyer in our own homeland? How come the most privileged of us see home as a place of poverty and backwardness when it is the place where tomorrow will be built? I agree with you, the diaspora must come home to help build our nation instead of contributing to upholding colonial mentalities. As a person who lives outside of Rwanda, I have noticed the need for the ” mental emancipation” you mentioned. And it is not only needed in the diaspora but in all layers of Rwandan society.

I can say I was blessed to grow up not in a rich, but at least a comfortable situation. I went to Ecole Française, Green Hills, and KICS, an American school in Gaculiro. At those schools as I progressively developed Pan African views I made interesting observations.Looking back, I ,too, was in a state of mental slavery. My friends and I lived in a bubble disconnected from reality, almost seeing ourselves as better than other Africans because often the so called upper classes of Africa want to emulate the West so much they forget who they are.

For example I remember my friends and I calling the bulk of what makes up the Rwandan population “local people” or “bledards”. But as my black consciousness woke up I realized how stupid that is. I was born and raised in Rwanda so I’m very much so one of those so called “local” people. J’ai toujours vécu au “bled” et je suis donc un bledard. I think this idea that what is local is bad is a colonial inheritance. It’s as though we still think that we have to become “evolué”(to coin the term used by our former colonizers, as though it has been ingrained in us that African success means to achieve perfect imitations of white, to come as close to “whiteness” as possible. I think that is why as you pointed out, some of our brothers are lost in the West.

Because they have been trained to think that driving a Taxi in Berlin, New York, Brussels or Paris is better than building bridges in Rwanda. The worst is that the problem is not that of individuals. It is a societal, psychological problem for all Rwandans/Africans, not just diaspora. To solve it, we must recognize the mental legacy of colonialism and fight it. Thanks for starting that process and fit emancipating minds on Twitter. God bless you and your views Gatete.

P. S : I want to become a lawyer and people like you are an inspiration to hold on to that dream’

About NYIRINGABO GATETE R Kevin

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