Taarifa Rwanda

In Whose Hands Is Kinyarwanda’s Fate?

There is need to give much space to Kinyarwanda, especially starting from among the youth. Despite having been a great national communication asset to our ancestors for centuries, it turns out that today this language is being apparently undermined and replaced in some cases by foreign languages such as English, French or Kiswahili.

The problem is so concerning that some young Rwandans today are funnily unable to pen down their names in mother tongue. What is laughable enough though is that they are not able to master those foreign tongues either.

Here is what Gatete Nyiringabo Ruhumuriza, a Rwandan blogger, reseeracher and lawyer, yearning to promote Kinyarwanda language, thinks can help build strength and admiration for their mother tongue, where they get it wrong and what could be the remedy.

  1. Youth are encouraged to learn Kinyarwanda for sentimental/patriotic – almost metaphysical reasons, while they prefer practical, strategic reasons for learning anything
  2. Kinyarwanda is taught in loaded and underwhelming language that youth think of as ‘heavy lifting’, while rappers do what they do best: ‘Destroy the language’. There are no comic books, exciting super heroes, films and tales, told in Kinyarwanda
  3. The Legend of Kayitare ‘Intare batinya’ for instance; or the Movie ‘600’ Spartans in CND who fought an overwhelming genocide’s army, sent small units to save lives behind enemy lines, protected politicians and held their ground until they were joined by comrades in Kinyarwanda
  4. To attract Funky people one must be funky. Otherwise Kinyarwanda sounds like our parents telling us to ‘eat vegetables’ because they are good for us. What they did was make veggie-samosa, veggie-wrap and veggie-mandazi
  5. For now, there are really no incentives to speaking Excellent Kinyarwanda, as compared to fake English. in Kigali! In other words, there are so more incentives in sounding non-Rwandan: In Rwanda. The Ultimate paradox is when most of our youth can’t pronounce their own names;
  6. Let’s see: with (fake) English you get better customer service, you are popular, you impress in interviews, you work in fancy places. With Kinyarwanda you get appreciated by Urujeninka and Tom Ndahiro. And they aren’t hiring lately.
  7. What the youth don’t know though, this is a phase, the day will come when the excuse of ‘history’ won’t fly anymore, when Kinyarwanda will be a criterion for top management jobs and high national responsibility, and at a certain age learning becomes difficult, it’ll be too late
  8. The day will come when Kinyarwanda will be a socio-political criterion. Having attended RPF 30 and Umushyikirano2017, I can tell you that that day is already here. The President spent ample time on the issue. I hope that scares you enough to start practicing now.
  9. Also, one can’t really understand Rwanda and Rwandans, without a strong mastery of Kinyarwanda. And to understand Rwanda is critical to politics, business, arts and ‘sustainable efficiency’ in Rwanda on a long term.
  10. In practical terms: Kinyarwanda is among the widest spoken languages and identities in the Greatlakes and EAC, spoken by over 50 million people. Kinyarwanda is a gateway to African languages such as Shona from Zimbabwe and Luhya from Kenya.
  11. in Addition Kinyarwanda is sister to Runyankole, Luganda, Kirundi, many languages in DRC, Cameroon, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, S/Africa, Kinyarwanda touches the East, West, South and Centre of Africa. Kinyarwanda’s outreach is unimaginable…
  12. As such, Kinyarwanda is a rich Bantu language, entrenched within African ancient philosophies. Kinyarwanda is actually a language of the erudite and the elite. Its mastery is a privilege.
  13. Scholarship and practice of high class Kinyarwanda is a sign of nobility in Rwanda, and accents distinguish classes. Mind you Rwandans learned foreign languages; but they spoke them separately and Kinyarwanda distinctly.
  14. With the post-exile generation, things have been turned up-side down: People can be forgiven for speaking foreign languages with an exotic accent, not The mother tongue Kinyarwanda with foreign accents.
  15. Alas! One can’t fix every problem in one generation! but youngsters should know that the class that mixes Kinyarwanda with English, French and other languages is ‘situational’ but may not last, due to Rwandans’ legendary nationalism and continuity of historical conscience
  16. I’ll conclude with a Disclaimer: Again, this isn’t an attack to those who can’t speak properly, this in fact, is an invitation to make mistakes and improve. This is also a call for indulgence from those would be tempted to mock, instead lend assistance to fellow citizens…
  17. For such was the wish of Jeanne Kaligirwa, when she composed the timeless ballad ‘Turaje’, urging us all Abanyarwanda to lend a hand and pick each other up.

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