Sunday, 29 December 2013

[RwandaLibre] Rwanda: No mattress, no husband

Rwanda: No mattress, no husband

Published on : 29 December 2013 - 5:00am | By RNW Africa Desk (Photo:
Women for Women/Flickr)

More about: children marriage Rwanda wedlock women's rights

Things seem to be upside down in Nyabitekeri, a district of Nyamasheke
in south-western Rwanda. While Rwandan tradition dictates that the
suitor is the one who has to work hard for the hand of his future
wife, the roles in recent years have been reversed.

The best of 2013 - 7

This is the 7th article in a series that features the best-read and
most interesting articles 2013. It was originally published on 24

Sometimes it's not all that easy to find a partner, especially when
there simply aren't enough men or women 'available'. In many
countries, people turn to dating sites on the web. In Rwanda however,
women have to 'buy themselves in'.

By Clive Muhenga, Nyabitekeri

In south-western Rwanda, would-be brides are finding themselves in a
very unusual situation. The reason: there are fewer male suitors than
there used to be. And it's the young woman and her family who are
paying the price. These days, the bride's parents are forced to sell
their livestock and sometimes even their land to provide a whole range
of chattels, including a double mattress, for their eligible daughter.
They can sometimes spend up to four times the amount of the dowry
given by their future son-in-law.

Felicita is coming back from the market with a makeshift wheelbarrow
loaded with two jerry cans of fuel, a rack of beer and lemonade, small
bags of cassava flour and beans, cans of cooking oil and a few
kilograms of sugar and rice.

After crossing the road with her precious cargo, the young woman
allows herself a moment's rest. "Keep going!" Petero, her young
neighbour, shouts sarcastically. "Don't make fun of me, old bachelor!
You know it's not for myself," Felicita replies in a similar tone.

For the past few months, Felicita has been working harder than usual.
She wisely started early with her wedding preparations. The primary
concern is not buying herself jewellery, but rather the gifts she will
take with her to her beloved.

"I have already purchased some kitchenware as well as a small
decorated wooden table, but I still need to buy the famous mattress,"
she explains.

Like everyone else
In this part of south-western Rwanda, an average double mattress costs
about 40,000 Rwandan francs (45 euros), which is the equivalent of a
government teacher's monthly wage. Felicita, though, hasn't got a job.

"For the past few months, I've been selling various food commodities
in the villages, as I don't want my parents to go bankrupt because of
my wedding," she explains. "Without all these goods, especially the
mattress, I could be rejected by my in-laws."

Zahara, another young single woman, objects to the whole practice.
"Killing yourself to get a husband? Is that love? I am ready to work
hard with him after the wedding, but not before," she insists.
Dancilla, who's married, couldn't disagree more: "Don't listen to this
one! She grew up in the city. Here you need to do the same as everyone

After paying his future in-laws 150,000 francs (165 euros) as a dowry
and building a small house next his parents, Felicita's sweetheart,
Yusufu, is looking forward to the big day. "The gifts that Felicita
will take to her new home will be worth far more than the dowry paid
by her fiancé," explains Dancilla.

Children out of wedlock
"What's the point of getting married then?" Zahara asks with a hint of sarcasm.

"Unbelievable!" says an irritated old man who up to now has been
quietly looking on. "Marriage is a decree from God. Dying single is a
curse! We need to perpetuate the human species by getting married and
having children."

Zahara points out that "one can be single and still have children."
The furious old man raises his cane: "You don't have any principles.
Having children out of wedlock?! That's prostitution!" Zahara leaves
with her head lowered.

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“Uwigize agatebo ayora ivi”. Ubutegetsi bukugira agatebo ukariyora uko bukeye n’uko bwije.

"Ce dont j’ai le plus peur, c’est des gens qui croient que, du jour au lendemain, on peut prendre une société, lui tordre le cou et en faire une autre."

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”

“The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.”

“I have loved justice and hated iniquity: therefore I die in exile."




1.Kumenya Amakuru n’amateka atabogamye ndetse n’Ibishobora Kukugiraho Ingaruka ni Uburenganzira Bwawe.

2.Kwisanzura mu Gutanga Ibitekerezo, Kurwanya Ubusumbane, Akarengane n’Ibindi Byose Bikubangamiye ni Uburenganzira Bwawe.