Diaspora is a condition of fragmentation not only of place, but of time.
diaspora is moving, always moving.
diaspora is being tugged in several directions all at once. diaspora is giving in to one of these directions but then feeling the others pull – maybe viscously, maybe weakly, but feeling the pull all the same.
diaspora is being at home-but-not-home, and being at not-home-but-home.
diaspora is longing. diaspora is making do with the present. diaspora is holding out for a future where ‘home’ doesn’t need any qualifications or modifiers or conditions.
diaspora is absence.
diaspora is yearning to be whole. diaspora is wanting to gather pieces of self scattered all over. diaspora is travelling large distances to collect what’s been shattered by and lost in time.
diaspora is negotiating homelands and host countries, pasts and futures.
diaspora is here. diaspora is now. – Author Unknown
Don’t you feel sometimes that words were written just for you, waiting for you stumble across them, bring them to life and give them meaning? Like some lyrics to your favourite song that bring you to a specific time and place, and fills you with more emotions that you think you can take in? Well, that’s exactly how I felt after my friend shared with me the above quote about being part of the diaspora. Hi, it’s me! Words, I’ve been looking to formulate all my life…
Finding a place away from home has always been something that I’ve struggled with. When I was little, I always thought that once I went back to Rwanda, my soul would just click back into place, the unfamiliar would be familiar, the pain would stop, the tears would dry up. And though I knew that no amount of praying would bring my Rwandan parents back, I hung on to the idea that returning, would mean going back home.
What happened, was more complicated.
I had spent so long not fully fitting in to my ‘adoptive’ life, and arrived into Rwanda not feeling I was fitting into the Rwandan one either. One foot in, one foot out, and my heart splattered somewhere in between.
My skin finally matched, but my language didn’t. I looked Rwandan from the distance, yet as soon as people got closer, they instantly realised there was something different.
Now, after several visits back (and a lot of therapy and life in between), I’m reclaiming what it is to live in between two places, and make a home out of both. I’ve built a life that I’m pretty proud of here, though my heart strings will always be pulled back to Rwanda, even though I don’t have any keys that open to house there.
I’ve learnt how to navigate between those two spaces, even though there’s moments my heart would make me book a one way ticket, yet still want to hold on to what I’ve come familiar to.
This is why the diaspora community is even more important, so you can have access to home, without a 6hour+ flight for the homecoming.
Despite the distance, in our eyes, you remain a reflection of Rwanda, of it’s people, its culture, and its potential – H.E. Mrs Jeannette Kagame, the First Lady of Rwanda
Attending the Women and Youth Empowerment Conference offered a place away from home, and I’m going to be honest, a bubble that I didn’t really wan to step out of. Like a comfort blanket you want to wrap yourself in and never take off. Though living in the UK is what I am most familiar to due to life circumstances, there’s something about being around other Rwandans, and hearing music played loudly, watching traditional dancing, that wakes up my soul in a way that no career or life success that I’ve achieved since leaving Rwanda could measure up to.
Listening to the words of the First Lady talking about the important role that we, as the diaspora have a place in Rwanda really hit home.
Know where you’re from so wherever you are, you’re standing strong. Remember that the whole county is routing for you. – H.E. Mrs Jeannette Kagame, the First Lady of Rwanda
Another of those, Yes, it’s me! moments, and heavens, I need those reminders.
When I was younger, I hated when people asked me where I was from. I always tried to divert the answer, and mumble ‘Africa’. It was easier than saying ‘Rwanda’ and then seeing their faces drop, and embark on a conversation that went from broken hearted awkwardness, to insensitive and intrusive questions about the genocide. I used to wish I could make up on the spot a completely different back story, for the days that I didn’t have the emotional energy to carry the full weight of what it meant to the outside world to be from Rwanda. For many years I only felt the scars and pain.
Do not fear or shy away from holding your Rwandan flag up high. – H.E. Mrs Jeannette Kagame, the First Lady of Rwanda
Having a deep sense of self anchors you.
Regaining a true love for Rwanda has enabled me to reclaim a fundamental part of myself.
I wish everyone could see how beautiful Rwanda is. How strong it is. I say it every time, but I truly believe that resilience pumps through the veins of the country. And it’s fiercely pumping through mine.
A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress very well. Rwanda is our diamond. – Yamina Karitanyi, High Commissioner of the Republic of Rwanda to the UK
The stronger I’ve gotten throughout the years, the more I felt I could give back to Rwanda. It makes sense though, all good therapists (and friends!) would tell you to heal yourself before trying to heal the world. And with that, I have been on marathon training mind-set, and its been pretty exciting. As with all big dreams, you have to plan to succeed, then win on purpose.
Reflect on how you will shape yourselves, and your country, into the Rwanda we want. – H.E. Mrs Jeannette Kagame, the First Lady of Rwanda
Life, I know has big plans ahead.
Watch this space.