Rwanda media may have intentionally skipped an important wedding of a low-key couple but this silence is too loud.
Teta Gisa Rwigema is the daughter of fallen Rwandan hero, Maj Gen Fred Rwigema.
On Saturday Teta officially tied the knot with her long-time fiancé Mervin Manzi at a colourful ceremony also attended by President Paul Kagame and other high profile personalities.
However, Teta’s brother Eric Gisa Junior was absent at his sister’s wedding; something that seemingly perturbed President Paul Kagame.
President Kagame addressed the people attending this ceremony and also registered his concern for the absence of Eric Gisa, Junior.
“Fred and I and our families’ friendship date from way back…Nshungyerezi, Toro and so on. Fred’s mother here bears testimony. I am concerned and I am sending you Teta, your mother Jeanette, and perhaps your grandmother, I have not seen at this wedding, Fred’s son,” President Kagame said.
“He should come back home…it is not right for him to live in exile…” Kagame added.
Rwandans Spend Much of Annual Income on Xmas
About 80% of the Rwandan population are Christians, this means they annually celebrate Christmas to honour the birth of Jesus Christ.
Christmas is just three weeks away and it is evident that most Rwandans are preparing for this holiday season always the longest in a year.
Around the world, families are making plans to celebrate the season with unique traditions, once-a-year meals, gifts and more.
A study conducted by WorldRemit to determine the true cost of Christmas in 14 countries showcases the average costs of traditional Christmas meals, decorations and gifts.
Data showed Rwandans are most impacted by the disparity between average household income and holiday costs, spending 708% of their monthly income and nearly 60% of their annual income on the holiday.
The study, looked at 14 countries [USA,UK,Canada, Australia, France, Philippines, Mexico, India, Kenya,Lebanon,Rwanda,Cameroon,Nigeria and Uganda] and researched basic Christmas Costs – including the main holiday meal, average gift spend and decorations.
According to this study, Christmas items were selected based on desk research of typical Christmas meals, gifts and decorations. “We then researched the average price of each item for an average family on an average income. The prices were researched online in late October 2021 – November 2021.”
Prices and breakdowns of what is appropriate for Christmas celebrations in each country were then shared with locals of that country who we hired to validate the data as correct.
Filipinos spend 257% of their monthly income on the holiday. In the region, Christmas celebrations begin in September and extend into January, making it challenging for many families to afford the basic costs of Christmas. Without remittances into countries like the Philippines, celebrating Christmas would be near impossible.
More than 244 million people are classified as immigrants around the world and account for large percentages of populations in countries like the United States (14.4% of total population)2, UK (9%)3, Australia (30%)4 and Canada (21.5%)5.
During the holidays, immigrants and overseas foreign workers are often unable to celebrate with their families in-person, and find themselves working to support not only themselves, but also their families and communities back home.
Christmas is one of the primary reasons immigrants and migrants send money back to their home country.
Because of the high cost of coveted seasonal items, food, and the overall impact COVID has had on supply chain and inflation, it is vital for remittance senders to be able to support those dearest to them by helping make Christmas a reality for their loved ones6.
For example, of the 14 countries observed that typically receive remittances, 10 spent more than 50% of their monthly household income on the holiday.
A holiday that would be impossible without remittances, the season of giving becomes vital, where the world’s largest send markets typically only spend less than 3% of their annual income on the holiday.
Kalusha Bwalya Urges The World To Walk, Run For Madiba On Sunday
Some of the African continent’s top sports stars have confirmed their participation for this Sunday’s annual Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run event, which takes place worldwide on 5 December 2021.
Organisers of the popular event are urging participants to register and participate virtually – and safely – wherever they are in the country, continent or around the world.
It’s super easy to participate. Simply register online at to confirm your participation in either the 5 kilometre walk or 10 and 21 kilometre runs to be part of this special event in aid of the work of the Nelson Mandela Foundation and held in partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Government.
The event will take place in limited numbers on Sunday morning in a safe, secure environment at its usual location around the Union Buildings and in the Pretoria surrounds, though all participants are encouraged to join virtually wherever you are and log your participation online.
Zambian and African football icon, Kalusha Bwalya, has laced up his running shoes and is urging everyone around the globe to participate in this special event to remember and celebrate the contribution of the human rights icon, Nelson Mandela.
“It’s been eight years since Madiba’s passing and its time again to commemorate his life and remember his contribution. It is a fun, social event for the whole family. Run virtually and register wherever you are. It’s for everybody. Whether you’re in Senegal, Zambia, Kenya, in the Americas or in Europe please join us to celebrate this incredible, incredible man. Let’s go, there’s no time to waste. I am ready,” said Bwalya.
And many of Africa’s biggest football stars have heeded Bwalya’s call and have confirmed their participation, including former Ghana international Anthony Baffoe and former Orlando Pirates captain Teboho Moloi.
Wimbledon finals wheelchair tennis sensation, Kgothatso Montjane, has also confirmed her participation, while top Olympic elite athletes such as Gerda Steyn and Stephen Mokoka are regular participants in this popular event.
It’s a social event for the fit, the not so fit and the completely unfit, so register and complete the event entry forms, walk or run your choice of distance and you will be awarded a physical medal for taking part at the Union Buildings or a unique virtual medal and certificate to confirm your participation if you took part anywhere in the rest of South Africa or around the world.
Entries for this year’s event have been received from as far afield as Spain, Kenya, Nigeria, United States, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Guatemala, Zambia and Sudan.
Started to commemorate Madiba’s passing on 5 December 2013, the popular annual event hosted from Tshwane’s Union Buildings will be held for the eighth time this year.
Entry fees for the Mandela Remembrance Walk and Run are as follows:
10 km = R60
5,10 or 21km Virtually = R60
US$5 – Runners from the rest of the African continent (all distances)
US$10 – International runners from the rest of the world (all distances)
All proceeds raised will be donated to the Nelson Mandela Foundation to continue promoting Madiba’s legacy.
Legal Marriage Only Costs Rwf10,000, Why Pay For Dowry?
At the current pace of transformation, there is considerable shift in culture and the previously important things have become very insignificant to the new generation.
For example, dowry has lost its significance in the formation of new families.
Today’s couples just agree to start a family and then walk into the nearest Sector office with witnesses on either side, take oath before a public notary then pay Rwf10,000 and are pronounced husband and wife.
The couple then appends their signatures in a huge hardcover book and walk back home to establish their new family. And this is simply as required by the law which has made it so cheap, convenient and quick for willing and consenting adults (man and woman) to start a family.
With all this provided for in the law, there are still many couples that have failed to do away with cultural bottle necks that prevent them from marrying. Some parents still demand for exorbitant ancient dowry and this has kept most of their daughters home without a chance of ever establishing a family.
In traditional Rwandan society when culture ruled every aspect of society, the process a couple had to go through to start a family was so expensive in terms of requirements.
Under the cultural tradition, a Rwandan man would mobilize cattle, local beer, many gifts and several other items all known as dowry to be offered to the girls family before they would give her away to the qualifying man.
For example, venantie Mukasine a resident of Rwamagana district was married in 1950’s. She still believes that dowry should be maintained.
“We were very proud to be accompanied by a cow valued as dowry behind us and brides carried on traditional stretchers,” Mukasine remembers her golden days.
She remembers that the family of son in law’s had to offer back a cow (indongoranyo) when the cow offered as dowry gave birth to a calf.
She cautions other parents against demanding expensive dowry because it can scare away potential in-laws and in some instances create conflicts between couples.
Nyirabikari Stephanie, 75, lives at Kamonyi in South Province argues that as a mother who has children that got married, she thinks that dowry should be banned if it is a barrier to young people to get married
“Dowry was a way to honor parents for raising well their daughter but now it is becoming a bad habit with money.
Sometimes this has led couples into having a child before marriage under the fear by the boy’s failure to raise dowry. Thus families would not talk much about dowry.
She suggests that if a man can’t find cows for dowry, the girls’ parents shouldn’t demand for lots of money because only love counts. If possible the girl shouldn’t even remain stuck at home because the boy can’t afford the dowry instead the girl would go without offering anything to parents as they love each other.
On the other side young people have their say about dowry especially men, most of them say that nowadays marriage is too expensive but others say that if dowry is removed, they could marry easily and omit some ceremonies.
Gasana Jean de Dieu works as a construction technician in Kigali, says that he will not spend millions on marriage; “I can’t spend 5 million for wedding, maybe I will negotiate with my girlfriend and we celebrate only traditional wedding otherwise it’s not easy.”
Kayitare Damascene from Nyamata in Ngeruka Sector says that even a girl who didn’t go to school can’t leave her parents unless you offer at least Rwf500,000 as dowry.
“I am now 25 years and I am practicing mechanics but I don’t think about getting married, because I tried it and found that in Nyamata the dowry now is valuing between Rwf700,000 and Rwf1 million, it’s hard for me because I survive on temporal jobs.”
Uwamahoro Innocent, 28, is a manager at a petrol station he admits that he can’t even marry a girl without dowry, he respects Rwandan culture and doesn’t mind about money given to parents as dowry.
“I respect culture and changes will always happen. I can’t even marry a girl without offering any thing to her parents but the problem would be to negotiate with my girlfriend and the way we communicate, because I believe that love is between two people. If they reach an agreement, the family wouldn’t disapprove of their decision.”
But married women argue that dowry is significant in Rwandan culture but don’t understand where the culture of giving money as dowry came from.
Nkundimfura Rosette, the Director of Gender and Family Promotion agrees with the fact that dowry has been a big problem since some people started offering money as dowry.
“Things change with development , now dowry is valued in terms of money and that leaves an image of trading, boys sometimes seek bank loans to pay for dowry and other ceremonies,” says Nkundimfura.
She says there are consequences to such weddings that end by creating some family conflicts caused by the crisis from high expensive wedding and dowry.
She advices young people to discuss enough before even announcing their project to parents that will help them to know each other and not to spend much money beyond their means.
Rwanda academy of Language and culture (RALC) told Taarifa that they are trying to sensitize people to think about culture first, throwing back to the ancient culture and to all series of ceremony because they are all important and significant.
Dr Jack Nzabonimpa staff of RALC in charge of culture notices that dowry is not recovering the cost of what parents spent while raising their daughter but it’s a culture component.
“We have plans to mobilize people to change their mind set, there is a book already published explaining the process of traditional wedding and its significance.
There are campaigns (Family campaign) organized in partnership with the Ministry of gender and Family Promotion MIGEPROF and other programs to help people having common understanding about dowry.
He recommends parents not to destroy the future family before even being formed, he also recommends couples to approach their family early in order to discuss and know each other.
“They should offer dowry depending on the standard of living, if the cost of the cow is Rwf300,000, don’t pay above, therefore it will prevent family conflicts,” suggested Dr Nzabonimpa.
Editors note: This article was published May 27, 2019
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