(Photo credit: Sara Hillstrom)
Living so close to the sun, a body moves slowly for self-preservation. Lungs expand with effort, making efforts to make less effort. Thoughts persuade the blood that we are cool and calm, we are cool and calm. Slowly is the way. We move with intention. And, we know that we are not alone.
Back straighter than a flagpole,
gait steadier than an anthem;
kilos of kindling top her head,
a jerry can in a hand,
Mama carries a machete in the other.
She carries a baby on her back.
Mama carries the future on her back.
She carries her country, men.
If Mama were to tire (don’t worry, she won’t),
if she needs to take a rest (don’t worry, she doesn’t),
would you carry Mama for a time?
Per its abbreviated nature, this grammar does not seek to present an all-encompassing description of Rwandan’s rich inventory of forms and sounds. For instance, the great gap between highest high vowel and lowest low valley is left for later editions. Decentralization of sounds is also unaddressed; its heavy politics better explained by a native speaker. To glean a deeper understanding, the author encourages readers to explore for themselves, in-person. Indeed, this is the only way to truly understand Rwandan’s speakers. Immersed in authentic forms, in the pragmatic realities, the routine movements, the so-called norms–then one can know.
Until such travel is possible or later editions arrive, may this brief description suffice.