I can’t see but I feel the stars!

There is always a so-called good or convenient side about everything: about how to live, walk, dance, laugh or love. There is also YOUR WAY of doing things! Maybe the socially accepted way or a different way of doing things great, beautifully placed out of the box of what people expect! So flawless in its way; in your way! I guess that ‘s what we call AUTHENTICITY. I recently made this poem because I believe that we need to embrace those beautifully weird sides of ourselves!

Though I think that we should try to fit into the society and be in line with social norms, I also feel that we should not silence our authentically creative and weird selves! Then we can always try to establish the perfect balance between our normal and weird selves!

The poem is about LOVE 🙂

Feel free to add your own lines, comments or questions! Murakoze!

“I can’t see, but I feel the stars” that’s the name!

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Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

I can’t see, but I feel the stars

I can’t sing, but I move with the music

I can’t surf, but I will tiptoe on the sand

A deep breath, I will sigh, and that will be all!

 

You can’t see, but you feel my touch

You can’t sing, but your fingers snap with the beat

You can’t surf, but you bought that boat!

A deep breath, you just sigh and that is all!

 

We never sing, but love having the bass on!

We never surf, but we love the waves

We just stare, smile, and sigh, and close our eyes again

And that will be all… till time loses count

Because maybe what we need is not to SEE, but to FEEL the stars!

 

Bizou Bizou

Denyse Umuhuza

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What does “bitch” mean to you?

Umuhuza inks

Hey! Am I the only one who takes time to read the long exhaustive hashtags on social media? There is this hashtag I saw on an Instagram post. It said #BitchesRockingTheWorld

I guess you too have seen such hashtags on posts that pop up in your phone, right? I think that women, even the world has kind of changed the meaning they attribute to this word. When I was in primary school, learning English, I learned that “a bitch” was a female dog. When I, as many other people, grew up I realized that “bitch” was a female thing, but not really the dog. As I went on learning English, I realized that it was an insult, to women/girls, but not to men. Should there be insults for men and for women? In terms of grammar, it makes sense! But otherwise…..uhm…. I know we can debate about this for hours…

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LIKE THE SUN

One day, someone asked me; “what do you do to always work that hard, to always keep your morale up?”, and I was like: “me?” My answer sounded so dumb, you can’t imagine.

Because deep inside, I knew it was not true, I am not always working hard, my morale is not always up, my mood always shifts from North to South pole. I leverage the positives but sometimes dwell in the negatives. As many other people, I get back up, to face life being stronger, working harder and happier than ever. (No one is bragging here Lol!)

However much cliché it may sound, it’s still true: “hard work pays off!” and I made this little poem-like piece for anyone who may need some positive energy, to get back up, to shine! LIKE THE SUN, that’s the title.

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LIKE THE SUN:

If you want to be the sun, first burn

OF COURSE, you do want to shine!

Don’t let your shoulders fall down

Don’t let that one depressed sigh destroy

That warm, badass dude inside you

Hey! Switch off that defeat song

And light up another day just like the sun!

 

If you want to be the sun, first burn that dark energy

I don’t need to be the genie in the bottle

To tell you that if you get out of your bed,

To sit up, and to push the curtains away

You will light up another day, like the sun!

 

If you want to be the sun, first burn the “I Can’t”s list

However much cliché  it may sound, it’s still true

Hard work pays off!

Lift the weight, feel the pain in your biceps

Push that rock a little bit harder

Fly harder, because wings never dried to become stones

Fly higher because you’re destined to dive the skies

Higher, over thereeeeee! Beyond the clouds! just like the sun!

 

Thanks for reading! Feel free to add another line to the poem in the comment section! Or share any tip of yours on how to harness the negative energy into a positive one!

Bizou! Bizou!

Denyse Umuhuza

What does “bitch” mean to you?

 

Hey! Am I the only one who takes time to read the long exhaustive hashtags on social media? There is this hashtag I saw on an Instagram post. It said #BitchesRockingTheWorld

I guess you too have seen such hashtags on posts that pop up in your phone, right? I think that women, even the world has kind of changed the meaning they attribute to this word. When I was in primary school, learning English, I learned that “a bitch” was a female dog. When I, as many other people, grew up I realized that “bitch” was a female thing, but not really the dog. As I went on learning English, I realized that it was an insult, to women/girls, but not to men. Should there be insults for men and for women? In terms of grammar, it makes sense! But otherwise…..uhm…. I know we can debate about this for hours, but let’s not do that! Instead, let’s think about the reasons why women have started using “bitch” in a positive context. Some girls say to their good friends: “Hey, I missed you bitch!”  or “Thank you, I love you bitch”(and this blog post is not about the insults grammar, and it’s neither encouraging anyone to insult anybody. Thanks!)

Why is this word making a bit of a shift from being negative to being positive? Is it actually because people want to be bitches? Or because there is a constantly changing meaning of this controversial word?

In a movie I watched long ago, there was that girl who resisted to be bullied at school and when other students (her bullies) were referring to her, they said: “she talks too much, she is such a bitch!”. Even in Kinyarwanda, we have words like “Ingare” or “inshinzi”. In the comments, Kinyarwanda speakers, help me define these words! Is it a woman/girl who talks with so much confidence, maybe? A woman/girl who talks too much? A woman who speaks her mind, even in front of men? A woman who confidently says no, regardless of the pressure on her? A woman who does bad stuff?  I mean there is that thing of confidence that makes women to be labeled “bitches”, “inshinzi”, or “ingare”.  I never heard these words used when referring to men. Instead, a man with the above specifications is often labeled as a go-getter, a great leader, or just a real man! Isn’t it sad that when some men do not fit in this box, they are pressured and sometimes oppressed by the society to “man-up”?

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Would it make a difference if men are called “bitches”, “Ingare” or “Inshinzi”? No, because that’s not what gender equality is about! It doesn’t mean oppressing the other side as a revenge, it means providing the needed support and equal opportunities to me and my brothers, to boys and girls, to women and men so they can both achieve their full potential, and build healthy and sustainably developed communities with men and women’s efforts blended together. (P.S: I guess the definition does not sound copied from Google, hahahah! Keplerians – this is not plagiarism, Ni ukuri!!).

I know people may say, “Hey, what’s about that thing of gender equality you always talk about? Hein!” or “this is 2018, girls are allowed to go to school” or “why do you always talk about it, here, in Rwanda we have more than 50% female members in the parliament.” Some people don’t understand why we still talk about gender equality, or why there are affirmative actions that focus on the promotion of girls’ education, and not boys’ education, or just education in general because many people claim the era of gender inequality ended with our parents’ and grandparents generations. I do remember the debates we had about such topics in a module, I took last month, called “Human Rights, Human Wrongs”. (I looooved that class)

Back to the topic of why people should still talk about gender equality! Let me bring a random example to the table. What would you feel if someone told you to move on, after you officially broke up with a guy/girl, but you still love that person soooo much? Think! You may say that you need time to do that, or maybe that you need emotional support, to finally move on and love another guy, right? Or on a bigger scale, what happens when people are evacuated by Red Cross after their homes were hit by a disaster, like an earthquake or Tsunami? Their life is safe, but they are given basic utilities for a reasonably long time, so that they can get back on their feet, right? This is the same thing with gender equality! We have a gender inequality historical background, we still need TIME to move on, to get on our feet, TIME to gain that social behavior change that we need. You wonder why?

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Why do we need behavior change? Kenyan activist Wangari Maathai was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, but she was once referred to as “too strong-minded for a woman”  (ONE, 2016). This is one of many examples that shows the abstract barriers the society imposes on women and girls.

Gender equality still needs a push! Laws of our countries and international organizations support education. But tell me, do you think that I would go to school, or take a Math option, or any STEM option if my family, or friends, or neighbors told me that’s a boy thing? Maybe yes, but I will need to be empowered or confident enough to stand and say: “my country supports me, I can do this!”  What I think is more probable is that the girl may say, “you know what!? I want to study Math, but my family says there are a lot more suitable things for girls, I think they are right!” Because we are closer to our families, and local societies than we are to higher national levels. The “I can do this” or “I can’t do this” feeling is influenced by how our very own society views the world.

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Countries need to support gender equality narratives, and so far as a Rwandan, I grew up seeing various amazing efforts my country invested in this. I am a witness and beneficiary of that wonderful support. But is that enough? We also need social behaviour change. To help us, women/girls feel that when we can stand up confidently to express our ideas, speak our truth, and set higher challenges, and possess that healthy dose of ego without risking to be labelled “ingare” or “inshinzi” or “bitches” in the negative sense of the words. Investing efforts in social behavior change; don’t you think it would make this planet of ours cooler?

Denyse Umuhuza


 

 

Footnotes
STEM: Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics
May you want to know the origin of “inshinzi” and “ingare” …click here (It’s in Kinyarwanda)
“Inshinzi”: an army of women that was created very long ago in Rwanda. 
“Ingare”: royal assistants of the queen of “inshinzi”

References

ONE. (2016, March 15). 5 powerful quotes from female African leaders. Retrieved from https://www.one.org/us/2016/03/15/5-powerful-quotes-from-female-african-leaders/

 

 

What are you doing in the meantime?

Do you ever look back to those dreams that never came true? Sometimes we forget we ever dreamt about them; it feels like, with our fingers, we wrote them on seashore sand and they were kind of swept away by the wind. But if you do remember those dreams, it’s that there is a subconscious part of you, however little it may be, that wants to re-work on that dream. Right? You still want to achieve that goal!

With my friends, we have been laughing at how some New Years Resolutions end up being just puffery! Not because they are puffery in their essence, but because we overlook them and kind of write them on seashore sand. We have high, amazing future expectations, sometimes SMARTer goals, but how many of them do we actually achieve huh? I have a list of long unattained goals, and a few bullet points of the one that came true, and from there I have learned something that I am happy to share with you today.

Since I was a little girl, I always wanted to know how to ride a bicycle, I tried it only two times in my whole life, I fell down every time, so I kind of gave up trying, however like a singer once said: “a piece of me still wants to.” I have also always dreamt to know how to play poker! And… I don’t know how to! Judge and laugh at me on this too. It’s Okay. lol

I dream to finish my university…

I have always dreamt to serve a great example to my younger siblings…

I also dream to gain some muscles…

The list goes on, chaotic and EXHAUSTING as well! Let me cut it short!

Lupita once said; “No matter where you are from, your dreams are still valid.” I realized that an everyday motivation to hit your target comes in form of one simple question: “What am I doing in the meantime?” Yes, you have your goal, you want to hit it so bad, and you know people don’t wake up and build castles. Yes! you do know that, right? My point is that whichever dream you have, however funny or difficult it may seem, no one can take it from you. Don’t just dream, don’t just write your dreams somewhere, pave your ways by doing something in the meantime. And that’s the bottom-line.

I believe that we will be excited to see the people we are becoming once we decide not to passively look forward to our dreams, but do something in the meantime. Do you want to learn how to ride a bicycle? Have you maybe spotted a friend who will teach you, have you secured some time during your weekends for this? Are you saving some money to rent or buy a bicycle? I mean, are you doing something in the meantime? Well… I think I am talking to myself on this! hahah!!

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This was in Karura forest, 2017, with Weya.  I am the one on the left, in a jumpsuit with dust on the knees. I fell off this bike more than 10 times before this picture was taken. 

 

Now, let me send this question to you. What’s your dream that never came true?

  • Starting a small shop in the neighborhood?
  • Graduating secondary school/university maybe?
  • Securing a full-time job?
  • Taking Kizomba or Salsa dance classes?
  • Buying a new phone, or a car maybe?
  • Riding a bicycle? Or… anything else.

Share your thoughts in the comments box below: Do you want to re-work on your unachieved goals? You do achieve some goals too, what do you think is the stepping stone to make your dreams come true? Share your tip!

Bizou! Bizou!

Denyse Umuhuza

I am sorry, I overheard it!

I know it’s not good, but I do it anyways. I always swear to never do it again, but I do it over and over. I do overhear people’s conversations when I am in public buses. Do you think I don’t try to mind my own business? I do, but this thing is stronger than me. Anyways, do I even have control over what my ears hear? No.

Well, I am not writing this to confess. I am doing this because of something I heard (or overheard) this morning, and it nagged me so bad that I made a surreal effort to not interfere in some ladies’ conversation, but I was hurt. “She said a girl is like a flower” and that’s not the issue because flowers are beautiful, we love them, they smell good and they are just beautiful! Fact! Okay!

That’s not my problem. I always try to mind my own business, but here I can’t. Let me just write what happened. Running late, black casual fluffy dress, simple professional outfit on a Monday morning, I enter a bus, with my computer bag on my back, rushing, I say Hi to some cool handsome guy who sits next to me, he is so dark, tall (I can see that even though he is sitting) and his smile melts my heart. But “Swataaaaa!” oops! He is wearing a ring!  But that’s not the story though. Just on the seat behind is a lady in her mid-forties, I assumed, talking on the phone. I don’t hear what the person at the other end says but I guess what the convo is all about. “I won’t let you do that! No! I can’t let you screw up your life. You are a girl! I am your aunt! It’s my responsibility.” The woman behind says to the person on the phone. An aunt, trying to advise her niece, it’s obvious. A brief silence, the person at the other end says something that I don’t hear. The woman replies; “You can’t go meander in the city, running after money! Your mother told me you want to start a cloth shop! huh! Do you really need to do that? Listen to me. Good girls don’t wander around!” she says. —-Another silence — Then woman adds “A girl is like a flower, sit at home, pray for your future husband, that’s what the ideal life of a girl means. Is that really difficult?” I suddenly turn to look at her. You know that curiosity crisis ditch that you fall into when someone behind you says something you didn’t expect! I then turned to see her face. Beautiful woman, fairly bright skin, in a mainly green kitenge Bubu dress, with a fancy head wrap in that same kitenge. Then she says; “Ndi Nyogosenge, jya ureka nguhane ariko!” which means: “I am your aunt let me advise you.” It’s deeper in Kinyarwanda than it seems in English, because our aunts in the Rwandan culture feel a great advisory responsibility towards their nieces. If you are Rwandan, you may know what it means when your mother says, “I will tell your aunt, what you did.” This is really serious. It means you did something very awful!

I am still overhearing the convo! The lady on the seat behind me goes on: “Your mother also told me that Karangwa is kind of… interested in you. He has a house, your mother told me, and he graduated from university, don’t you think he would make a great… No listen to me first! Please! … What I mean is that girls are like flowers, flowers don’t run! Women are the heart of the family, you can’t give yourself the freedom to run hills as men! Karangwa has a good job…”

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And there I lost it, I had to get off the bus! So I had no other choice except to make up my own story from the small pieces I had.  Well! So, there is this Girl X who wants to leave her home to start a cloth shop in town. But her family is worried, (normal reaction of parents, right?). There is also this man, Karangwa who is interested in our Girl X, but apparently the girl is so ambitious that she wants to leave the guy behind, I suppose. That’s the story, I imagine.

But you know what? I am tired! I am tired of all this! I am tired of listening to parents who prohibit their children to live their full potential, I am tired of always listening to stories of parents who discourage their daughters to live independent lives. Don’t you think that Girl X is also worried about the new adventure she is going on? Don’t you think she knows there are risks implied? She is worried sick, she is longing for someone to encourage her! To hold her back! She may be scared too, but she stood tall to conquer her fear.

You know what I am not tired of; parents who listen to their daughters and sons aspirations’, people who advise you, but let you take the decisions about your life. People who have got your back, and encourage you to be the best best best best version of yourself! I do know that such people exist? But how many are they?

I am just mad at the “green kitenge woman”! She said that girls, should be like flowers, they should not run hills and run after money because this is a man thing. They are the heart of the family, she said.

In the post that I recently made in Kinyarwanda asking if money was the villain! I appreciated comments from you, readers, that all highlighted that money is not evil! You said that the behavior people adopt when they have money may be bad but this is relative, and you affirmed hustling for money itself is not a problem. You have mothers, sisters, girlfriends and female colleagues or you are women/girls. From your experience, do you support that both girls and boys hustle for money equally or as they wish? Do you think a woman can “run after money” and still be the heart of her family?

Post your thoughts in the comments box below.

Denyse Umuhuza

His name is Jules Caesar.

I rarely write about love. The few times I tried it, it was (what shall I say?)… a failure. But some people are talented enough to capture this strange magic. One of them is Jules Caesar. I am writing this now because I was highly privileged to get Jules’s permission to publish a piece of his ongoing work on my blog. Scroll down, to read it.  This poetic piece is part of something bigger! A novel that will potentially be published in the near future.

Jules inherited the power of creation. With his pen, phone or computer keyboard, he can create a world sparkling of love or/and give a life to death fantasies. From my personal observation, a lot of his work talk about death with a phenomenal sense of romance, and his unique perception of life, love, and death never ceases to move me. The thing is; he is one of the Rwandan upcoming badass writers! Read the poem below and tell me if my statement is subjective. Lol!

To cut it short, I chose to post one of his many romantic pieces, but when I asked him about the inspiration behind these lines; he said: “We will never be able to make our loved ones understand what we really feel for them, which makes love a prison.” He sighed, blinked once and then added: “A beautiful prison that we cannot get out of.”  And that’s when his inspiration sparked again.

A lot of Jules pieces will put you deep in your feelings, give you goosebumps, and the magic will get so real and so intense once you read more of his writings. I am pretty sure you will get to see them all around soon.

This is just a starter.

Had I been a soldier,

I would grab my sword

Suit up in my toughest armor

Tie a strand of your dress to my arm

And go to war with all the ills of the world

Until my last drop of blood, I would fight to obliterate

So none of them would ever get to you to ruin your day

But unfortunately, I am not

 

Well, let’s talk about love now.

In the comment box below, tell me. Which line do you like the most? Which title would you give to this piece? Jules says love is a prison, but a beautiful prison. [Honestly] Do you agree? Choose a question to answer in your comments and feel free to answer to all of them if you want to.

Denyse Umuhuza