Rwandan men, boring? Really?

Kind and Humoristic Note to the Nigerian girl who said that Rwandan Men are boring.

I read your article with attention and it made me laugh, breathe, enjoy how you are living in Kigali. I told myself I would take the time to reply to you and try to expain you the whole thing about Rwandan men.

But the first thing I wanted to tell you, is that you are lucky. Because you are doing your university studies in the ALU university. I fled Rwanda my country in 1994, where other people, Rwandan like me chased me out of the country. There is no single day that I do not think about my country.

I would have loved to study one year at a University in Rwanda, this would have maybe fixed some broken parts of me but never mind, I found another way to fix them.

Now this said, let’s move to the gossiping part.

As a young girl, I of course spent nights with my friends talking about boys.

The thing that made us laugh the most during our discussions is that we would go high in stereotypes and describe Rwandan men as very strange. A rwandan man when he likes you, instead of coming and talking to you, he would go and sit at the bar and start staring at you. All evening long. Then he would ask other people who you are, what you do etc

Twenty years later, the joke to a friend would be something like : ” Do you think that if we go to that pub, the guy is still waiting for you at the bar ? Please let’s go and set him free after all those years…

It’s not the Nigerian style let’s agree. But why do they do that ?

I cannot find the answers in them because I am not them. But let’s first try to find the answers in Rwandan girls.

Already a “Hi!” is too much for a rwandan girl. When she doesn’t know you as a man and you say “Hi” she will already be in a defensive mode. That’s already a harassment. You should already know that Rwandan girls think that they are the most beautiful girls on earth. So any attempt to approach them is seen as a tentative to take profit of their beauty. Rwandan men think that too, especially when it’s related to their sisters and cousins.  So you see, there is no-one inside the whole country to state the opposite. It’s not a matter of opinion, everyone has to live as if that statement was true. I mean you are one of the first people to throw our reality in the face and confront it.

So, when a Rwandan man falls in love with an non-rwandan girl one might think it’s treason. ( Although, any reasonable person would tell you that sometimes it’s the best solution to stay away from our dramas) Or that maybe there’s something strange about him and he doesn’t want the community to discover it. Or that he’s a heartbreaker and nobody wants him anymore. Because Rwandan girls share information.

So when the Rwandan man is sitting at the bar, probably starring at you, hesitating to come for a talk that he knows will not happen, because Rwandan girls don’t talk to strangers, don’t take the blame on him. The whole community is guilty on that. And why the hell would he lose money sending you drinks while the probability that you even respond to his “Hi” politely is almost touching zero? So he might think, he better be at that bar, starring at you, asking who you are to his friends, because you won’t tell him anyway.

The fact that Rwandans stay between Rwandans is a thing that I also never understood. Here in Belgium, there are Rwandan that only have Rwandan friends…And still complain about Rwandans… And the part I tell you that we have a complicated history as you know and trusting each other is also complicated, is now. And still we stay in community. Can you get this ? I must say consistency is not something we master perfectly. This is of course a statement coming from a rwandan woman who married a rwandan man in Belgium.

As a matter of fact, let’s agree for the moment that what you said, it is a bit true. Or that your experience and feelings about the Rwandan community are not unusual.

Now let me tell you about my experience with Nigerian men. (Rwandans, don’t call my mum, I am not saying I went out with half of the Nigerian community)

I already feel bad, when I remember the stress I underwent with them. I met one at a party, twenty years ago. And he was with his girlfriend, who was a nice and beautiful woman. The couple was very charming, and really kind. You know the kind of a couple that enters the room and you agree with the nature that put them together. Later in the evening, the guy put a word in my hand with his phone number, and something like “ You are so beautiful, please call me”. I was sin shock. What the hell was that ? I felt aggressed, offended especially for his girlfriend.

I swear if the girl had seen that I would have got in trouble for nothing. Rwandan men are so naughty in their way, but my subjective love for them tells me they would never do such a horrible thing ( even if I know they would but maybe in a bit more subtile way, I dare to believe). Of course I didn’t call, but that wasn’t over. I saw the guy again in a dancing bar one week later (my God, I used to go out every weekend). I literally ran to hide when I saw him, and one of my classmates had to play the fake naughty jealous boyfriend to chase the guy.

The guy wouldn’t care, and was really insisting. Of course he would brag the way he has money, like really. I didn’t consider this as manhood, but harassment. If you do this as a Rwandan man, we call your mum if you have one so that she can kick your ***. We were raised by our aunties and as them, we don’t like induru or urusaku.

Nigerian men are really talkative. Demonstrative. Rwandan men are used to simple “no” from Rwandan girls which might mean “yes” or “no”, temporally or definitive. As simple as that. And it doesn’t have to be motivated. But Nigerian men, you need to justify yourself why you don’t want him and never ever ever tell him that you have no boyfriend because he will already call himself your boyfriend. And already start the relationship by himself while waiting for you to be ready. Anyway, even to those I told I had one or even a husband, they didn’t care. I hope this is not the kind of manhood you were saying you miss?

One also followed me until the the classroom at the University, because he was begging for my phone number.

After all those dramas, I would be approached in a tramway by some English talking African man, and would simulate not talking or understanding English AT ALL, nor French nor nothing. I would then speak Kinyarwanda and play the little poor and lost girl that just landed. We might call this trauma.

I know Nigerian men would spoil you and give you money when you are their girlfriends but they are also known as drama Kings. They have like ten they spoil like that in the city. It takes time to know that you are not unique as they might say because Lagos is a big city. Try to do this in Kigali and your story will be fine-tuned in all the local newspapers. Basically another issue, if a Rwandan man sends you a drink, he has to make sure that between the bar and him, no-one knows him and no-one will tell to his aunty that he is a soon to get married man. And the dramatic thing is that we have cousins that pop up everyday, everywhere.

I also read your complain about the fact that Rwandans are slow and all that. But how does it come that Rwanda ROCKS in development, that we shout so loud that the world pays attention on our so slow country? You still have to discover that. I would be interested to know, because something might have missed your attention. I appreciate what you said about the best parts of living in Rwanda, safety and peace of mind, and how much the streets are clean and the efforts that are put in that. Somehow I am not surprised that the social experience might be a bit more complicated but that you feel that you don’t mind staying in Rwanda.

I honestly think that what you said about Rwandan men is about clichés and what I said about Nigerian men is also a matter of stereotypes. And clichés for me are the cover of the book, but when you dig more into that, you can appreciate every person one by one. So we really don’t need any shipment of (your idea) of men in Kigali, our aunties wouldn’t stand the excentricity of Nigerian men. But we can visit each other 🙂

I think there is a good and a bad in every culture and if you stick to those blocking things you saw in Rwandans, you will never know how wonderful we can be in our weirdness. Beyond those stereotypes, I assure you, although we are complicated, we are a nice community, once you get to know us. But your valid point is that we should also open ourselves a bit more to other cultures, otherwise they will never be able to discover that wonderfulness.

I liked the example that you gave about an Igbo surrounded by Yoruba people. I understood the comparison and that’s how I knew I exaggerate in Netflixing on Nigerian films. I really like your country and its culture. The food and the cinema. I hope visiting it one day. Me in Lagos.

One last point, I think your ALU university should have a student association that helps students like you to be integrated in the Rwandan community. Inviting you to parties, weddings, making you visit the country.

I wish you lots of success in your studies, and hope that despite all, you will have loved your experience in Kigali. Maybe who knows, in years from now, you will be married to some rwandan man and you will laugh about this.

Please readers, if you read me and are in Kigali, invite this girl for a nice (covid-proof) experience in Rwanda!

Zaha Boo

P.S : I know there are people who plan to write to me and tell me that Rwandan girls changed, that they are more open than I described them, that they became amasasu and so on. Please explain me then why rwandan men still don’t send drinks from the bar…:-)

1 Comment

  1. Honestly, I really like your reply… I am a Nigeria working in Rwanda I can tell you when I read her post I knew she was not open minded to embrace other people’s culture. I have attended several Rwanda weddings and parties pre-COVID I had fun.

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