What Kenya needs to learn from Rwanda’s Silence
Rwanda is beautiful and the views! But the silence in this country reminds me of the silence I encountered in Singapore (peaceful silence). While Singapore lacks personality Rwanda has character and culture.
What will bother you about Rwanda is that the silence feels like someone just died. That moment of silence we have after a tragedy and we have cried to our heart’s content. The silence in Rwanda saddens me, it’s not the peaceful kind of silence it’s the silence people have when they are on a leash. Their silence feels forced like everyone is afraid to talk loudly.
Let’s talk about Singapore for a minute:
Travelling to Singapore was an amazing experience for me. I would wake up in the middle of the night to walk around in town with zero safety concerns. I would sit on the bench at an isolated park with ten men at 2 AM in the morning and no man would even glance in my direction. My nipples would be all out in a top and no man would even undress me with their eyes.
Women would come from the 20th floor to the fourth floor where there is a pool, ride on the elevator in bikinis, shorts, bra-lets and no man will even as much as wink at them. I was in a foreign country dressing like a superstar in very tiny things and no one imposed their ideas of decency on me. Women in Singapore have on shorts showing butt cheeks, these men don’t even care. Is it safe to say these men are civilized or not barbaric… Anyone who knows me knows I’m always in T-shirt and jeans in Kenya because Kenyan men, it’s not in their nature to leave you alone. They think your body is at their disposal. If men from Singapore make their women feel safe what’s up with the rest of the world?
Anyway, Back to Rwanda!
Hell! I have walked in some parts of the cleanest city in Africa, Kigali, looking for people laughing and talking loudly and I haven’t found. I miss Kenya. I never thought I would ever miss Kenya. I miss the warmth that the Kenyan people have, I thought I hated the noise at Railways, I can do anything to hear a makanga tell me “Mrembo panda na Mbao twende.” I miss my Kikuyu cab driver telling me “Ai sisi Wakikuyu ndio waisraeli” I miss the noise that comes with Kenyan markets and this stages at Olympic With Luos making noise. I can do anything to hear “Sisi ndio Serikal”
I want to hear mat number 2 making noise by playing African beauty from town to Adams. We don’t realize how we make Kenya a home. How we give our country life. How even after elections we can still afford to laugh with each other. One of my colleagues just asked people at the hotel “Which tribe are you? Hutu or Tutsi? I felt the silence. The Americans at the reception almost choked on their drink. Everyone was looking at everything but at us. I think this is how the Rwandese want to heal, by denying their ethnicity they think they would be able to forget and move on from their bloody past. I don’t know if I’m an expert on healing, I’m the last person who should talk about how people should heal their trauma so I won’t.
Rwanda has a way of giving you perspective: What if one day I woke up to find half my Facebook friends are dead because they were unfortunate to be born from a particular tribe? While the other half are murderers and years after order has been restored, we sit around java too afraid to talk about the monsters we became. I hope we never get here as Kenyans, our silence shouldn’t feel this heavy. I hope we never have to whisper our tribes because we are ashamed of our past. I hope we continue insulting Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto on their Twitter without consequence. Hell! Just to feel at home I will head over to Miguna Miguna’s page to insult him just because I can.
You may also want to read: Women and Youth in Africa: Is your Silence and Self Censorship Increasing?
I really hope as a country we never get here. I really love you people.I wish I could give you all a hug when I come back.
About the writer: Kweyu Makokha:
Kweyu Makokha is a Kenyan Storyteller, Poet, and Designer. Besides traveling, her interests lie in Data Analysis and Gender Parity.