Invest In People

​It’s not everyday that you see a dead body. Last night, I did. His name is (or was?) Sibomana. He was crossing the road when a car hit him. Maybe, he was going to the shops to buy something for his wife and their baby. I don’t know. But he died on spot. His lifeless body, covered by a kitenge, lay by the roadside. His sandals arranged by his feet. His head had been crushed and you could see a stream blood running from under the kitenge covering his body, and onto the tarmac. The car was parked, just a few meters from where his body lay. His wife sat there, numb.
It is poignant to watch a vulnerable person like her in a such painful situation.

Sibomana died last night, and I realized how extremely fragile our lives are. I truly realized how transient life is. Every time we are potentially flirting with death. You could lead a healthy lifestyle – drinking 2l of water a day, exercising regularly, eating vegetables & fruits – just choke on your own saliva and die, leaving behind guys who smoke and eat fries daily. At any given moment, one’s life can end in any number of unexpected ways. You don’t even need to do anything risky to die. One minute you could be walking to the shops to buy groceries and next minute a car hits you and you die. Like Sibomana. Or you could be showering, slide on the slippery bathtub floor, snap your neck and die. Or you could be having lunch, choke on a bone and die. Or you could be shot to death. You just have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a bullet hits you. Or you could be declared dead untimely. You be screaming but nobody hears or answers you. You can’t move. It’s dark, you’re running out of air and no one can save you. No one knows you’re there. Then your world becomes soft and foggy and everything fades to black. Nothingness. Long and empty. And you’re gone. Or even, you could think that you have superpowers, jump off a very tall building and die.

Though a common preferred way to die, is in bed (pure, perfect, uninterrupted sleep) we don’t get to choose how we die. At the very least we don’t think we will die in a gruesome, brutal way. Yet sometimes, someone is just unlucky and dies in a strange and terrifying way, like Richard. I remember vividly the night when Richard died. Earlier that day, he’d been complaining about having a headache and couldn’t see. That day he was taken to Ndera (the Psychiatric Hospital). He was admitted, was scheduled to undergo head scans the next day. Unfortunately, he died that night and shocked everyone. Death took his life, leaving behind his old grandma who was completely dependent on him. I didn’t make it to his burial but I imagined the profound sadness that enveloped his grandma during his burial. I wished I could restore his life, for his wailing grandmother.

Sibomana and Richard probably never thought they would die that day, just like you don’t think you’ll die any time before your unfinished business. But the truth is that you could. 

Richard’s and Sibomana’s deaths reset an already existing reflection in my head. Why do we fail to show love and care for the people we claim to love whilst they are still alive? Like, someone lays ill in a hospital bed for months, with no caregiver, nothing to eat. Though the person would so much enjoy a visit from relatives/friends, no one shows up. But the very moment the person draws their last breath, the relatives who had not seen him/her in decades show up out of the blue, crocodile tears flowing plenty. Makes one wonder where the so-called relatives and friends were when they were very much needed. The hypocrisy is mad sickening. 

I’ve witnessed where upon the death of an old man, the relatives quickly re-innovated his house, painted it, put electricity and everything, so that the funeral be held in a decent place. They be mourning and groaning inappropriately. The hypocrisy that the mourners display is shocking. One would say that maybe they were trying to make up for what they had failed to do before, but it was too late. The old man was gone. Nothing could make up for the hurt they’d caused him. Yes, we should show love and respect to the deceased, but how about we show the same love and respect whilst they are still alive? How about we come together to help before the person dies?

People matter more than anything, more than money. People matter more than the things we kill ourselves to get. People matter more than another plot you want to buy, or another house you want to purchase. We should place value on people, not on money. We should invest in people. Because when the curtains close, all these things we kill ourselves to get won’t matter if you are alone at your deathbed.

Nothing exposes the ugly face behind the mask of concern that people wear, like death and funerals. That’s why I have always hated the hypocrisy at funerals. Sometimes it feels like funerals are for displaying the mask of concern that people wear and for showing how much they’ve been able acquire in life. Well, people are entitled to honor their loved ones in ways they please… But, funerals ought to be about giving support to the relatives of the deceased and to comfort them while celebrating the life of the deceased. To acknowledge the pain that comes from the demise of a loved one and help begin the healing process.  

Did They Do It To You Too?

It is beautiful outside. The sun is REALLY shining. Birds are chirping. It is summer, which means weddings, which means gutwerera and bridal showers (and the inevitable pressure that comes with weddings). Almost every weekend on your calendar is booked. Every now and then, you get texts reminding you to attend those wedding planning meetings (a.k.a. the fundraisers). You groan everytime you get such a text. 

If you are a chick and also a friend to the soon-to-be bride, you’ll be added to a new WhatsApp Group called ‘Gisele’s bridal shower’, then the fun will begin (Hehe). The admin will welcome you all and inform you that it’ll be a surprise for the bride (bya he?) and that the shower is due in 2 weeks. She’ll proceed to tell you that the contribution is fixed at not less than 5000frw, followed by contact details to transfer the cash to. Dress code: all white. 

For me, the concept of sitting in a room with a bunch of women (whom I don’t know) while one special lady sits on a throne-like chair for hours freaks me out. I hate bridal showers. However, I don’t hate showers out of jealousy or the urge to be on the receiving end. Naah! I may say that I hate showers and be told “Do not worry, it’ll be your turn soon” Hehe! I can’t even predict what the next day of my life will look like, let alone harbor the idea of getting married and having babies! Anyhow, I know that couples need household items, and we all need all the help we can get. But isn’t that what wedding gifts are meant for? I find these showers unnecessary. And I always wonder why these bridal showers don’t include men? If the marriage is between a man and a woman (as per Rwandan Constitution), why should the shower be an all-female event? Also, men have money, and more money equals more gifts, and we all know that showers are gift-grab events.

Bridal showers aside. There’s also the (inevitable) pressure that comes with weddings. The pressure of being single. I don’t feel the pressure on the daily, but when I get ‘save the date’, I can’t help but think “am I missing something?”. I wonder why the fuck am I single? And there’s always that relative or your mother’s friend who for whatever reason needs to know why I’m still in school after so long, why I’m still single, and what I’m doing about it. Like my choices are any of their damn business. They be giving subtle hints like “Ko ntacyo wibwira?” or “Uzaduha inzoga ryari?” These old guys are unimpressed by one’s ambitious pursuits and be reinforcing notions that marriage and babies should be the primary focus in our lives

*rolls eyes*

Anyways, it is wedding season, remember? Which means that you need several outfits so that you won’t be wearing the same outfit to different ceremonies. You wore the red and black dress to Fiona’s wedding and to Alice’s introduction. You wore the long blue dress to Mutesi’s introduction and to Jack’s wedding last month. You don’t want to wear the black and white dress to Fred’s wedding, since you wore it last weekend. So, there’s one person you need: a tailor.

You’ve got a piece of fabric/material. You’ve already chosen your own style. You ask your friend, Solange and she recommends a tailor. Mama Sumaya is her name. You have hope. You tell Mama Sumaya that Solange recommended her, and you proceed to tell her that there’s a wedding in 3 weeks that you plan on wearing the dress to. She seems to pay attention and nods. You show her the style and she immediately says that she can sew it. Hmm. You explain that you want it embroidered with black and she still nods. You agree on the price, pay 50% (the remaining is to be paid when you pick your dress) and take her contact number. 3 days before the wedding, you remind her that you’ll be coming to pick the dress the next day. The next day, you try reaching her but both her Tigo and MTN lines are switched off. After a couple of times, you finally get through to her but she doesn’t pick up. You text her but get no reply from her. Then you know that something is wrong. You text her that you want your dress or the material in whatever form. And that’s when she comes clean with you, telling you that she had finished the dress but burnt it while ironing it. Hehe! How does one cope with such?

It’s like tailors find it easy to let people down. If there’s anything that tailors can teach someone, it’s patience and the importance of having plan B. When you take your material to the tailor for sewing, just add 2 weeks (before the expected time) for adjustments here and there…maybe too tight or a bit loose (when she takes your measurements but then decides not to use them) or when the tailor decides to remix your style, because well you know tailors and their madness. Like, when you repeatedly tell her to use black embroidery but instead uses yellow embroidery.
Speaking of plan Bs, your outfit is burnt (sorry) so you have to find another one. And it’s not easy to pick out an outfit. You stare at your closet, wondering if you don’t own anything nice. After an hour or so, you’re dressed and out the door. You arrive at the reception hall. Only 30 minutes late. Good thing, the newly-weds have not arrived at the reception hall yet. 50 minutes later, the newly-weds still have not yet arrived at the reception hall. They are still taking pictures. You are wondering why the reception hasn’t begun, yet. Why aren’t you at least drinking? The drinks are right there. You could grab one. But you have to wait. I have many problems with the food aspect of weddings. You never know what to expect. At most weddings, there’s only cake and fanta (that is if you’re seated in the front rows). If you’re very lucky, there’s take-away (bread, a slice of potato, and a tiny meatball). I miss that time when they served food and beer during wedding receptions. Weddings are about celebrating the union of 2 people. But what’s a celebration without food and drinks?

Anyways, you’ve already eaten your cake. So, it’s time to go home.

Happy Wedding Season to you all.

Fuck the Past

At any given moment, you have the power to say: this is not how the story is going to end

~ Christine Mason Miller

Have you ever made a mistake you thought was terrible that you simply couldn’t forgive yourself? A mistake you thought was so bad that you sunk into depression? A mistake that made you wonder silently if you’re not probably the stupidest person alive?
Well, here is my story…

I was in this relationship for almost 4 years. Though he said that he loved me, his actions proved otherwise. But I continued to see the relationship for what it could be, rather than what it actually was: toxic. There were lots of things that I thought I could ignore or shove under the carpet. Then he hurt me, on purpose. He cheated intentionally. I, on the other hand, not knowing better, kept wondering silently what lacked in the relationship that gave room for such betrayal. Perhaps love is truly blind.

Despite it taking me months, I came to terms with reality that it wasn’t much of a relationship, at all. It was just a fantasy world created from his half assed efforts, with a strong foundation in delusion. It was entirely unsatisfactory! I used to think that I was never good enough for him. I was constantly coming second to dozens of other girls. I thought I was the main chick, but I was being played. I was led on, for almost 4 years. I thought he shared my love for him. Then the cheating happened and photos on his social media accounts broadcast the fun they were having, status updates said what was on his mind or announced his availability, commitment or something in between. When I questioned him about it, he quickly pulled them down and denied it! Hehe. I kept quiet but I’d seen everything! I tried harder than anything to forget that but I couldn’t. He made me feel completely worthless. He emotionally ruined me. However, I finally realized that it wasn’t me not being good enough for him. And these words have resonated with me for some time now. 

Later, I was overcome by shame. How could I be so stupid? Why did I tolerate such behavior? Why did I allow all that to happen? This terrible feeling continued. Flashing before my eyes, I saw all the opportunities I had to walk away, but I had chosen the other way. I would be so close to getting out, but he would call or text, and I would blow it again. I would fail myself again. The logical-side knew the truth long ago, but the emotional-side nearly destroyed it. Sure, emotions keep one from being cold and cruel. But they can also cloud vision and enable scum to try to create a mess.

After walking in and out of the door so many times, he taught me to lock the door. The hardest and saddest part was to stop fighting and just walk away. But then I thought why should I be sad? I had lost someone who didn’t love me but he had lost someone who loved him, genuinely. Not only was I done investing my time in him, I also cut him off completely and burned down the damn bridge, instead of running around absorbing and forgiving everything. Sometimes, you got to be cold to show people that you were being loving (and understanding) the entire time.

Looking back, now, I wonder how I even tolerated such unhealthy behavior. No matter how hard I tried to forgive myself, I continued to beat myself up for this. I couldn’t shake off the feeling. Even after the break up (for lack of a better term), I continued to experience shame and self-loathing thoughts. But you know when you’re dealing with a person who did you wrong/hurt you, you can choose to forgive, release the hurt, and maybe not maintain contact with them anymore. But with yourself? That’s not even an option. You don’t get to quit or walk away from yourself. No!

Fortunately however, one day it gets better. You wake up and you’re not angry or sad anymore. And there’s no explanation or reason why. It just happens like that.

I can’t go back in time and fix it. However, I can recover from the mistake, learn from it, forgive myself and move on with my life. Because having had my heart broken, I learned to forgive but I can never forget how a broken heart feels. I’m learning to be selfish with me and with my time. I don’t want to reconcile with him. I want to forgive myself for not knowing better. To forgive myself for all the pain that I’ve caused myself. For not loving myself enough. I am constantly reminding myself that I deserve better than the distorted perception of love that was handed to me on a tarnished platter. 

The experience has changed me. It made me a better person. It made me stronger and more discerning. I learned the dangers of not putting myself first and not loving myself enough. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be loved in a way you feel you deserve. I deserve better than being ignored and taken for granted, I deserve better than being manipulated. I deserve God’s best for my life and nothing less. Simply because I’m worth it. I am thankful for the opportunity to grow in these ways. I celebrate who I have become because of my past mistakes.

I’m happy now

My New Favorite Thing To Do

My name is Angela and I’m an artist (not the regular kind though). I’m also a Biomedical Laboratory Sciences graduate, an aspiring chef, a meat-lover and a procrastinator. But this post is for another story. A story about my new favorite thing to do.

Last Tuesday I washed one of my denim pants. While washing them, I noticed that they had started to give away at critical areas (read: the bum). Since they’re not really wearable any more but the denim is still good, I thought “How can I reuse the good bits of denim?”

I remembered seeing denim bags at campus. I googled and found some tutorials and that was it. I couldn’t wait for it to dry and put it to good use. Once dry, I cut off the upper part across crotch area (I’ll make a bag out of that, later) and used the leg parts. With the help of the tutorials, I made a small purse (the first one).

I was quite surprised I could sew like this, I thought it would come out with some ugly zig-zag patterns. I loved it.

Yesterday, I made another purse using a small piece of a kitenge fabric and some denim. I took a zipper off an old bag. I was quite pleased with the purse as well, because for a beginner like me, it’s not so bad. I worked on it till 3:34 AM today.

However, it needs some minor adjuments here and there. 

I want to learn sewing (not just sewing for fun) and how to use a sewing machine because the struggle of using a needle to sew is very real…my fingers are hurting since last night. And I intend on sewing my own clothes in the future. To be my own fashion designer.

Watch this space…