I have discovered that we have a rich culture and I am proud of it. Rwandan traditional hairstyles were beautiful and unique and I treasure this great heritage. I am determined to protect this Rwandan cultural legacy for generations to come.
What gave you the motivation/courage to focus on your Rwanda culture?
Our kids and the next generations need to know their culture and heritage, this is their identity even if they are born in the diaspora. Knowing their history, where they come from, and events that shaped our families and lives, all of these helps our kids to build their own identities.
From what you have observed, how does the immigration experience affect a person?
This is a broad question but an important one. I would say that immigration impacted me in a positive way. I changed some of my Rwandan cultures for the better by introducing new ideas, customs, and especially cuisines. I didn't erase my Rwandan culture, however, I expanded it.
IC: Nice, that's a great way to frame it.
Along similar lines, how has colonialism affected us, when it comes to beauty? Confidence, Ambition? Is it reversible?
Colonialism brainwashed Africans showing them that their beauty doesn't meet top beauty standards and that they should assimilate to Eurocentric beauty standards. Colonial beauty standards have tried to erase the visibility of black beauty.
IC:We couldn't agree more!
Any helpful tips to Rwandans and Africans in general on how to maintain their natural beauty, especially their natural hair?
Everyone is different but try to use natural products as much as you can and be proud of your skin. You know, darker skin can show age more slowly? because it has melanin versus lighter skin tones which typically age faster.
What are some common reasons for us not being happy with the length/look of our hair? Breakage, damage, perceptions?
Black hair is not easy to maintain but once you know your type of hair, you can manage it. There are many perceptions around it that are not always true like black hair doesn't grow fast, it looks dirty and unprofessional, etc. FYI my hair is clean, not flattened and I proudly wear my kinky hair in different styles at work.
IC: Confidence is key indeed.
Most people, including Rwandans and Africans at large, enjoy following trends. Do you have any tips on how to remain satisfied with what sets us apart? Whether it be hair type, skin color, etc.
Trends are not always bad but don't blindly follow everything that the media portrays especially if it makes your cultural heritage inferior. You can have any hairstyle you want but as a black person, your hair may not be straight or you might not be light-skinned, so be proud of who you are. That's your uniqueness, and you should be proud of it. And remember, your skin color is beautiful as it is. Even if you apply bleaching products you will never be White or Caucasian(because you are originally and genetically Black). Also, this is not a representation of Rwandans at all.
We love your blog on “Amasunzu”. Without cutting your hair, how do you go about achieving that style?
Thank you. I washed my hair, split it into 3 crests, and applied olive oil and gel to keep them firm)
IC:Thanks for the tip!
What do you wish people knew about their mindset before colonization?
Before colonization Rwandans had their own culture, language, cultural norms, and beauty standards and they were proud of themselves. Now there is this colonial mentality which is the internalized attitude of cultural inferiority felt as a result of colonization.
How long have you been natural? What major challenges did you face while starting your natural hair journey? How did you manage them?
I've been natural for 12 years now. I had dreadlocks for 7 years, took them down, and had my free, regular natural hair. I was afraid that I won't be able to maintain my hair but my husband encouraged me to go natural and ditch the relaxers and flat hair. Additionally, there are a lot of great YouTube videos and tutorials for different types of hair maintenance.
Onto a different area of life, how do you manage to be a full-time professional, mom, and creative? How do you get it all done?
I basically make a list of everything and focus first on priorities. My family is my priority. I've learned to say no to some requests if they don't align with my priorities and I don't feel guilty about that anymore.
This has been great. Anything else you would like to share?
There is power in knowing who you are, your cultural identity, and your heritage. You understand your uniqueness and refuse to copy-paste every trend in this fast changing. Life is short for not being yourself, don't die a copy!
IC: And that's a mic drop moment! :) Thanks so much for your time and for inspiring us all to be our true authentic and ambitious selves.
Where can people find you to learn more?