The world is a very small place
And you don’t start realizing just how lucky you are…
…Or how grateful you should be
Until you hear other people’s stories.
In the last week of September…
I met an amazing young woman
She’s 20 and of mixed Rwandan heritage.
Her name is Jovinne Chakhilla.
And when she told me her story…
I didn’t even know whether to laugh or cry.
It all started during the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda
When the so-called world super powers sat back and watched …as over 1million people lost their lives.
A massacre of unimaginable proportions
But before things got really messy…
A number of Rwandans were lucky to have fled
To neighboring countries like Congo, Tanzania etc
Prior fleeing to Congo
Jovinne’s parents had never met
They were strangers who didn’t even know each other
But fleeing the genocide brought them together
Then they fell in love…
And got married in Congo.
Not something I’m particularly happy to state:
But as you probably already know…
The 1994 genocide in Rwanda was an ethnic cleansing targeted at Tutsis…
Jovinne’s Dad is Tutsi — her mom, Hutu
And the guy — her dad — would probably be long dead and gone — if he didn’t flee back then.
But whatever you do…
It is not a good idea to ask a Rwandan if they’re Hutu or Tutsi
Kinda brings back painful memories.
Many of them survived the bloodshed
Like, they saw loved ones — parents, siblings, relatives — matcheted to death
Dead bodies everywhere
PTSD and stuff.
Scars like that almost never heal
Best to avoid scratching the surface
The only reason I know Jovinne is mixed
…is because she mentioned it to me.
And she’s also the one who told me how Rwandans would rather be seen as …
Which kinda makes sense…
Since it makes it easier to forgive & live with the pain
If you’ve never experienced a war or genocide
You have no idea how lucky you are…
Forget the pandemic
Forget the fear-mongering by the mainstream media
You’re actually living during one of the most peaceful periods in human history…
Anyway, moving on:
Here’s where this stuff gets a bit more interesting:
So Jovinne is like the first-child
But, before she was born…
Her mum lost 3 babies.
2 boys and a girl.
Almost lost her life in the process too
The emotional trauma alone.
How this stuff would have screwed with her mental health
So when Jovinne was conceived in the fall of 2001…
Her mom didn’t think much of it
Like… she really wanted a child of her own
But then… she’d already lost 3 babies…
So if this one didn’t pull through…
Fortunately — Jovinne survived.
And you’d think stuff like this makes a man love his wife even more deeply.
But by the time Jovinne was 6 or so
Her mom developed a sudden health challenge
Then her Dad abandoned them
At this point, there was another child — a boy
And since the age of six…
Up until 2021… (14-years)
Jovinne’s been working her ass off
Taking care of her mom and her brother
Now, she’s all grown up…
A big girl so to speak
Then suddenly… out of the blue…
Her Dad starts reaching out
To her and her mom
He doesn’t know what came over him
He wants to come back
This doesn’t make any sense to Jovinne
She’s not comfortable with the whole thing
At first, her mom is on the same page with her
Both of them are angry
We don’t want you here — go away
All of which holds water in any court of law
But after a few weeks…
Her mom has a change of heart
I know he messed up
What he did was stupid — and wicked
I’m even angrier than you are
But he’s my husband, I still love him…
I want to give him a second chance
All of which skyrockets Jovinne’s anger to the moon
You’re making this too easy for him
He can’t just pop out of nowhere after 14-years
And come back into our lives just like that
Anyways, it’s your life, she says…
You can accept him back if you want
But he’s not spending a night in this house
I don’t want him here
I can’t live under the same roof with this man
If he’ll start living with us again
I’ll need some time to process all of this
And if I’m still not okay with it
He can’t stay
I’ll have to leave and get my own place
So both of you can have the house to yourselves
The mom understands
So these days, rather than have him over
She visits her husband almost on a daily basis…
It’s like she just fell in love all over again
Most weekends, she’s over at his place lol
Much to Jovinne’s annoyance
She says — in all honesty —
That she’s never seen her mom this happy
Which is supposed to be a good thing…
But the fact the source of this sudden happiness is something she resents…
…is what makes it all the more annoying.
Basically, she just rants and I listen
Mostly, she wants to know what I think
I hardly have anything to say
But ocassionally… when she presses
I like to say something to the effect of…
I can’t say what your dad did is good,
Or that you should do anything you don’t want
But sometimes, people really do change for good.
Although, we can’t know for sure if he’s genuinely sorry
Might take a while to figure that out… But it looks like your mom is happy he’s back. You said it yourself she was almost always depressed before now…But these days, it looks like she’s never been happier …isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?
A smile crosses her lips.
I know, she says…
Then the script starts playing all over…
14 fucking years!!!
Mom was sick when he left
It was just me and Ben (her younger brother)
Wherever he was, was he thinking about us?
Did he ever pause to think…
How’s my wife and kids?
At this point, I don’t even know what to say
Because the truth is…
Even though I can’t really say I know how she feels
I’m not sure I’ll be excited to have my father back
If he had abandoned me and my siblings when we were barely 7-years of age…
Leaving us and my mom to fend for ourselves
Luckily, we don’t die
We survive… and turn out very okay as adults
Then out of nowhere…
When it looks like we’re doing pretty okay without him
He just pops out and before anyone can say anything…
My mom is already opening her legs for him again
Couldn’t find a better way to phrase this ^^
But the point is
If my pop did something like that…
The predominant feeling towards him
Would be one of deep-seated resentment
That’s me putting it mildly…
And simply saying “I’m sorry” wouldn’t cut it
I mean, if my mom wants….
She can sleep over at his place all she likes…
But the man will have a hard time getting through to me
So in a sense, I see why Jovinne is mad
Because in her case…
There was no support from relatives
One girl, shouldering such enormous responsiblities
In a place like Kigali…
From the early age of six.
Taking all sorts of jobs
Just so they can pay rent, feed and also… put herself and her brother through school
Most of us were lucky.
Like, we never worried about stuff like this
And the funny thing is….
This babe is cute as fuck
So lots of men (especially foreigners)…
Tried to use money to “buy her into marriage”
Like, they’d come to their house
Tell the mom they really liked her daughter
And even try to make it look like they were doing them a favour…
Jovinne wasn’t having it
You can all fuck off, she would say
And in all the places she worked?
Employers wanted to use her as sex tool.
One place she worked — she wasn’t paid for 3-months.
Her last employer — a foreigner of Asian descent — to whom she refers as a pig…
Wanted to sleep with her at every turn
She didn’t budge.
As expected, he became very mean
Started treating her badly
Saying lots of demeaning stuff in front of customers
At some point, she got fed up.
Couldn’t take it anymore
So she quit.
Good riddance — she says.
I’ve known her for like 3-months and we’re pretty close now…
She tells me she wants to build her own thing
Even if it’s just a small biz where she sells nice office outfits to working class women in Kigali.
Then once that’s running effectively ….
Stuff around skincare can be upsold on the back-end
I find this pretty interesting.
Clearly, she’s been doing a lot of thinking
And the good thing is…
Ecommerce here is still an untapped goldmine.
So lots of room for rapid growth
She intends to start early next year
Probably mid-January or so
Not a lot of capital required to start.
I think she has some money saved up
But if there’s need for some extra cash
Or some help with stuff around strategy and marketing
It would be nice to support this kind of dream
In any little way I can.
Anyway, been a while I wrote you
A bunch of stuff on my plate this period
Just thought to share this…
Hopefully, it was a good read