by Brenda Umutoniwase | Nov 15, 2017

Kinyarwanda: a language that sets me free and reminds me
that I come first while their languages tell me
that I come second, third—last? A language that grounds me
and speaks of home. In fact it is home itself. I always come back
to it when English has failed me and English always does.

It carries with it stories and histories. Stories that remind me how to
live and to love and some which when translated totally lose their meaning.
A language that allows me to be in sync with my ancestors.
A language that reminds me that I belong somewhere, that we
communicate in heartbeats and expressions, funny ones and sad ones.
It talks of people like me, who look like me, speak like me,
and live lives like mine. It allows me to exist both apart from
and in the world. It is sisterhood and the secret words in
dining halls full of whites. Speaking a single word in Kinyarwanda
after a sentence in English feels like walking barefoot on a soft
carpet after a long day in heels.

You feel me?

Brenda Umutoniwase
Brenda Umutoniwase, a sophomore at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Majoring in international agriculture and rural development with a concentration in economic development policies and food systems and a minor in Afrikan studies. An Afrikan history enthusiast with a focus on Rwandan history/culture. A curious and confused learner trying to make sense of what I've read, heard and seen. With short poems, I usually am my own audience but sharing is caring so here I am.