Shaking Tables

The story of Rwandan parents redefining parenting

In Rwanda’s local language children are valued. “Umwana ni umutware” is a famous Kinyarwanda saying that means that a child is chief. Despite this value, social norms still make it unusual for adults to engage in play activities with children. The hierarchy between adults and children is quite obvious and playing with children is very uncommon as parents prefer to be in power so they can instill discipline and respect into their kids. As a result, this also results in children fearing parents, and hence walking on their toes not to do anything that parents might find inappropriate.

But in a society where the current generation of parents grew up in an era that didn’t normalize children and adults playing together, is there a chance of turning things around? The answer is an optimistic yes. We are seeing groups of parents who have started shaking tables by challenging what parenting means and redefining their role in how they interact with children.

Through the #KinaRwanda and #KinaWiga hashtags, some Rwandan influencers who have children have been actively participating in a movement that redefines play and sheds light on the critical role that parents can play to allow children to get the most out of play activities.

Egidie Bibio, a famous journalist and parent also posted a video of herself teaching her daughters how to make airplanes from tree leaves, and in the video she and the kids are seen running around having a blast as they fly DIY planes made from leaves. In her caption she wrote: “Look at how kids are excited! We didn’t use any fancy props, it’s just simple leaves.”

Most of the parents who have been driving this online movement have shown how easy and fun playing with children is. They have also shared their thoughts of how they see play time contribute to their children’s early childhood development. This movement has created a ripple effect as more parents have since joined the movement and posted their own videos, and there is more that is yet to be seen as this movement of parents keeps shaking tables and redefining parenting. It’s heartwarming to see how Rwandan parents have started this critical conversation, and they are walking the talk by showing how play time can help in parent-child bonding and being real life examples that parents are never too wacky to join in and create more fun play experiences for their children.

“My girls and I have so much fun playing together, and they learn so much from it from solving simple problems, to time management, or even tying shoe laces.” said Kagire Edmund, a famous media personality and one of the parents who have been setting the example in normalizing parents binding with their children through play.