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I left akarwa k’abakobwa with more questions than answers

I left akarwa k’abakobwa with more questions than answers

My last Rubavu getaway took place sometime in November last year. While in this enchanting district, I visited a few islands off the shore of Nyamyumba. This experience enabled me to reconnect with Lake Kivu and learn a little bit of history.

When I docked on akarwa k’abakobwa (girls’ islet), my heart bled. This is where our forefathers used to dump their pregnant daughters as a punishment for pre-marital pregnancies.

When Abashi men from Idjwi Island came to their rescue, the poor girls ended up in forced marriages under depressing conditions. With all due respect to my ancestors, I think they went overboard in this case.

Girls’ islets are found in different parts of Lake Kivu. So far, I have visited three of them. The three isles, found in Rubavu, Karongi and Nyamasheke, are as tiny as dots. From the distance, they look like decimal points on the verge of being erased by the waves. The Rubavu one is rocky and devoid of vegetation cover. It looks like a heap of stones partially submerged in the water.

When was the island-dumping punishment adopted? For how long was it acceptable? What happened to Rwandan children born and raised in Abashi communities? Did they harbor any grudges against their maternal relatives on this side of the lake?

In a bid to find answers, I am talking to old folks who know more than you can imagine. When I learn something from these walking libraries, you will be the first to know.

The author is an adventurer on a tour of all 30 districts and 416 sectors of Rwanda. Follow his awe-inspiring journey on Twitter @GeoExposure.


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