Words of Wisdom


Even in a society such as modern as America wisdom is passed on by the elder generations to the younger ones. These sayings from experience people guide the youth even today. Not only do they help guide the younger generation they also give a window to the culture and mistakes of the past. Baho! By Roland Rugero uses the concept of sayings as the a form in his book. The form that it is typically utilized in is the title of each chapter.

Baho! Is a story about the hardships of an African village in Kayna Valley. The main conflict in the book revolves around a trail by mob of a mute man who is believed to be assaulting a young women. This trail serves to bring up the changes in the society while also showing how the village tries to hold onto the past. This tug and pull of the last is shown through the first chapters title “The past presages the future,”(1) this quote is demonstrates the overarching theme of the story which is the past and future are connected. How the village tries to keep or change this connection to the past varies.

Within the mob trail of the assault the saying shows the theme of the chapter and how the past connects the future. The saying is “Even if the evil doers acts alone, the fault falls on the entire family,”(33) this idea of connected village teachings is both used to hurt the societies culture as well as bring back preserve other parts. This is seen by the men getting challenged by the women for also sexually harassing women almost claiming that the men failed the accused by not teaching him how to treat women. At the same time the women of the village start to realize that the past treatments of there gender are wrong.

Overall Baho! brings into question how much the past is involved in the present. This idea should make us all think about how the saying are parents and grandparents shape us and who we are. Displaying that even are culture isn’t so different that the past cannot effect America in the same way.


Language: The Art of Manipulation and Deceit in Regards to Gender Relations

9AFB0DEA-2829-49AF-BEDE-8507ABE42E48The divide between Nyamugari and the people of his community boils down to not understanding the each other, or rather, one side is unwilling to listen. In Baho! by Roland Rugero, explores the theme of language as a barrier. It’s no longer something that is used to communicate freely and efficiently, but to shore up a reputation that’s on the brink of crumbling. It is illustrated in the men’s “caring” attitude, in that it wasn’t the girl’s emotions and feelings that were put into consideration, but her value as an object/property and her value would have dropped drastically if she had been raped. It sends a message of flowery words hiding the true intent of the patriarchy in this community.

Recent events have come to light in Hollywood’s seedy underbelly, the unwanted and terrifying sexual advances of men are now being exposed for the disgusting acts they are. It was often the women’s fault, that they were “asking for it” or they “shouldn’t have been wearing those clothes, they’re so provocative,” when in reality they were just there to have fun with friends, not be groped by strangers. Though its funny (not at all), to see how these men aren’t even sincere in these apologies, like Al Franken who had many accusations levied against him said:

“I’m going to try to learn from my mistakes,” he told reporters here. “In doing so, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. I want to be someone who adds something to this conversation.” (Fandos, The New York Times)

But if they were sincere in their apologies, wouldn’t he not be in such a compromising position in the first place? It doesn’t seem that it was the case, like with Charlie Rose as he said:

In a statement, Rose said he didn’t think all the allegations leveled against him by eight women were accurate but felt he “was pursuing shared feelings” and now has “a profound new respect for women and their lives.” (Klein, The Washington Post)

It comes across as self-serving and manipulative, just obliging the public what they want to hear, but not really giving any real substance. It makes you think how really, the events of Baho! only show the inherent failure as a society to show that we are progressive, that the things we value are nothing more than objects, rather than the people they should be thought of as. Have we actually grown as a race or have we regressed back to cavemen?


Dualities of Life

Life is complicated.

Everyone knows that already. From all the different events that can take place for a single person on a day-to-day basis, to all the new and familiar people we interact with daily, there are so many aspects of life that makes it so complex.

The nature of it is complicated, but does our perspective on life need to be complicated as well? Should we go about our lives expecting it to be a perpetual cycle of new encounters and uncertainty? Or are we able to simplify it down into core concepts that can define life well enough to give us some form of predictability and comfort.


To be more clear, I am specifically referring to binary oppositions. These are pairs of related things that are different in meaning. Roland Rugero in the novel, Baho!, gives us some examples like “Coming and going. Before and after. Crying and laughing. Fatigue and rest” (22). He does refer to binaries as a different name though: “dualities.”

In the book, the main character, Nyaamuragi, who has had a rough life both in the past and his present time, states that through his experiences, he has learned that life was made out of dualities. He goes on to say that everything is comparable to some version of this duality and without it, there will be unbalance and uncertainty.

I personally disagree with him though.

I believe that if you look at anything in life as black and white, life is going to throw at you the grayest possible version of that something as possible. You cannot box all the different aspects of living into a collection of dualities. It would be too simplified. I feel like people who do look at things through binaries tend to be stubborn given that will see things as only having one correct path and one wrong path.  Which then makes them immensely less prepared for the real world compared to someone who are able to accept life the way that it is, a an unpredictable mess of surprises.

You can even take it a step further and try subverting these dualities. Or in other words, try going outside the boundaries that these binaries set up for us. I believe that in doing this, you are truly able to see life in its entirety and perhaps  enjoy or appreciate life even more than before.



We can do it!


“You know, it really doesn’t matter what they write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass. But she’s got to be young and beautiful.” –Donald Trump.


An honest quote from Potus and nothing wrong with his choice of words. You see, he clearly is explaining how women MUST be beautiful and young, simply just eye candy, nothing else really matters. Because after all her worth is only her looks and how good she is in bed. Women are here to please men, they are an accessory to other accomplishments one (a man) can achieve. After all, women are just sexual beings placed on Earth for men to admire, right?


In the novel Baho! By Roland Rugero, these views from Potus on women are congruent to those of the men in the village in Burundi. The women there are objectified by the men on a daily basis. The women’s worth depends on how beautiful, young, and fresh she is, and it depletes as she ages. The story however, is about a mute named Nyamuragi, whom is wrongfully convicted of raping a young girl in the village. He had been trying to ask her where the restroom is groping his “area” without a subconscious thought of personal space. The young girl was frightened by the act thinking he was trying to rape her and she cried for help. Since Nyamuragi was unable to explain himself and fled the scene, it was assumed that he was guilty by the villagers.


In chapter 4 after the incident, the women in the village try to console Kigeme, the girl “assaulted”. They start to share stories of all the many times and it starts to become more clear to them how wrongly treated they are. Meanwhle, the men of the village are watching the women from a far checking the women out. They said amongst themselves “now that woman is gorgeous, Kigeme’s mother over there, and the wife of Richard NZitonda. I’m telling you! And Pierre Guriro’s, you see! And Jean-Marie Barekebavuge’s, of course! And Arcel Izobikra’s, wow!” (page 26). This moment just shows the level of respect the men in the village have for the women. These women are sharing stories that they have not shared with many, things that these men have done to them, and these men are just gawking at them doing exactly what they are complaining amongst themselves about. Although, we see this as wrong and as do the women, the men don’t. They don’t really see what they are doing as wrong because it’s just the way things have always been in a way, it’s just normal.


In chapter 6, another cringe worthy moment occurs when Irakoze, a beautiful young woman accidently shows the skin on her hip when her shirt raises a little. When this happens to her, a man named Corneille Mugabo rightfully touches her hip. He’s able to touch her hip because “that hip belongs to man, that hip deserves to be touched when she’s just going to let it show like that”. She was asking for it wasn’t she?….WRONG.


The men in this novel are so far into the mistreating of their women, that they don’t see it as wrong. They just believe that women have little/ to nothing to offer except their bodies and external appearance.

This goes back to President Trump’s disgusting quote that a woman is really only an accessory, an object to acquire.


Her opinion means nothing.


However, here I am, sharing mine.

Women are NOT Property


In the novel, Baho! by Ronald Rugero, a young deaf man is accused of raping a young woman, when in reality he was only trying to get directions.

In today’s society, there have been many sexual assault accusations.  Many of which, if not all, are true. These men apologize for their wrong doing, but only because they were caught. If they were not caught, would they have said sorry? Most likely not. Even with apologies, this does not excuse their actions.


A main theme in Baho! is gender relations. There is a power struggle occurring in Kanya, a village in Burundi, where women are objectified. The men in court feel as though they must protect their gender and take it upon themselves to find the deaf boy guilty. “Let’s go, men! We must defend ourselves!” (Rugero 26). By saying this, the five judges think they can rid themselves of the sexist and degrading actions they place on the women in the village. Here, proves the sexist system laid in the novel. It’s like our society where sexual assaulters apologize and POOF all is forgiven.

However, this isn’t how it should be. Women are NOT property. Men should not be be able to justify what they’ve done through a forced apology. Or, in means of the story, thinking they are doing the right thing by finding the deaf boy guilty as if it will save the reputation and pride of men. The men in Baho! disregard the victim to save the male species. A noticeable theme seen in today’s society.

Crossing Borders: Sexual Assault

Recent sexual assault allegations following the movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein, has created an outburst of daily headlines containing new reports of rapes and assaults within various industries. In a recent interview with Sarah Silverman, the Guardian’s journalist, Sophie Heawood, has described this outbreak as “a horrible two weeks for women in Hollywood.” However,  Silverman contradicts Heawood’s statement by adding in her own two cents: “’It’s probably been the best two weeks for women in Hollywood ever. It’s a better two weeks than the silence of the past.’”

We tend to believe sexual assaults are ‘new’ due to the recent disclosure of actors and affluent individuals that committed the appalling acts within the Hollywood industry. Yet, even before the Weinstein scandal, it was (and presently is) very apparent that women have endeavored various acts of sexual harassment and assault within America.  But we should understand that these occurrences are happening at a larger scale outside American soil. By examining Roland Rugero’s novel, Baho!, we can acquire better insight towards the poorer social position women face outside our range of vision.

Rugero’s Baho! subtly examines the dynamics of women’s maltreatment within a small village, Hariho, in Burundi. Baho!, depicts a mute man’s [Nyamuragi] false accusation of premeditated rape towards a 14-year old girl, Kigeme. Nyamuragi’s accusation was a result of Kigeme misinterpreting his gestures made in order find a bathroom to relieve himself. In consequence of the misunderstanding, the men of Hariho take it upon themselves to punish the presumed rapist.

An assortment of factors deters the vindication of Nyamuragi. In particular, the anxiety of sexual assault women in Hariho bear. Kigeme recounts that “the obsessive fear of rape has haunted this country’s women.” (Rugero 15). A whole country of women are on high alert of being assaulted. In fact, from the Human Rights Watch’s report in 2015, there was around 323 (264 women and 59 girls) reported cases of sexual assault or rape within Burundi in a span of 4 months. This also doesn’t take into account unreported cases. This outrageous number of assaulted women provides insight to the apprehension seen within the village of Hariho and explains the swift labeling of Nyamuragi as a deviant.

“From May through September 2015, 323 (264 women and 59 girls) reported cases of rape or sexual assault that occurred in Burundi”

The village men also contribute to not only prolonging Nyamuragi’s ‘trial’, but the uneasiness women experience as well. This is seen when the women of Hariho are consoling Kigeme after the incident occurred. Instead of chipping in their support, the men ogle the women and converse among themselves which “women [are] gorgeous” (Rugero 26). The hypocrisy seen within the men provides an explanation to why Nyamuragi’s trial becomes very one-sided: they are attempting to make Nyamuragi a martyr. By ‘cleansing’ the village of the rapist, they are attempting to also cleanse their own sins.

Throughout history, it has predominantly been men that ruled and created societies throughout civilizations. Men created ’ideals’ that women in society should follow; be submissive and docile; provide food for the husband; etc. Women are perceived more as a sexual symbol rather than as human beings within the men’s psyche. This symbolization becomes an ideology that men seek and impose towards women. The ideology dominates men as a result. Action must be taken to rid of this burden women are born into for a better future. As noted within both the Hollywood industry and the nation of Burundi, in which the fictional world of Baho! takes place, the junction of women throughout the globe is the fear of assault. This fear, unfortunately, crosses the borders of nations.

Disability in Baho!: Nyrumagi and the other.

In Rugelo’s Baho! we are shown a character who is tried for rape. He is unable to defend himself because of his inability to speak. His inability to speak makes Nyrumagi an outsider among his people. In his society to be a man in a masculine sense he needs to carry himself well this includes vocally. In the book Rugelo states,”He is superstitious he believes in man. and since one should seek meaning only in the comprehensible, he endeavors to come to terms with the fears of man. Man dismantles, creates, and destroys again. This much is apparent. Behold, the master of the world.” When one reads Rugelo’s interpretation of this scene. Nyrumagi is supposedly master of the world, but cannot verbally ask for a cup of water. He is dependent on a world where it is essentially everyone for themself.

Communication in this world is important. So is education, but in order to be educated he had to be able to communicate. So this puts him at an disadvantage communication wise. Especially when it comes to his hearing. He is being tried for something he didn’t commit, but cannot communicate his innocence. When one looks at the way they try to explain his affliction they rely more on superstition than medicine. What does this mean to Nyrumagi? That justice is meant for people who look and act like the people in the courts. If he isn’t then he is automatically guilty. Part of that mentality is fear of the unknown. The disabled person in this case is something that needs to be cured not understood. In his book Rugelo book states, “You degenerate excuse of a man!” rages the vigilante Judge. As he spits in his face.” (30) As soon as it became clear he can’t form the correct words it becomes easier to question his masculinity. To see him as different. Rugelo mixes both Language, and societal pressure to give this sense of injustice. He didn’t commit the act of rape, but it doesnt matter to the court. Plus when you read Nyrumragi’s torture he is treated less than human or in this case without a soul.
Nyrumragi is souless, and treated without compassion.

His father talks about him not possibly being able to go to the school. But at the same time he is not treated well by anyone. In the book his father would say, “Why the White man’s school select those who are normal, and not you, my child? The strong, the intelligent, those who know how to speak.” (53) By being mute he has lost his identity in either world. He cannot be apart of the Education brought by the Europeans or Agriculture culture of his village in Africa.  He is a stranger to both. Nor can he hope to mimic, at best he can gesture. What most holds him back is being alone to fend for himself. In school Nyrumagi is laughed at, and Rugelo says, “A cheerful laugh, as any child is capable of…” (54) From a young age Nyrumagi is made to feel an outcast. Feel different from the things that tie him to god, the culture, his sense of identity. In some ways he views himself to blame for his condition. But in a society where life is very hard the one’s incapable of keeping up are usually left behind.

So Rugelo ties muteness as a medition on how the human condition is. It’s not always kind to everyone. It’s brutal to those who people see as less human or different. It goes to the overall meaning of  justice. He is outcasted, and tortured for something outside of his control. The justice is called into question.




Bad Beginnings


Baho is a captivating novel, it starts off with Nyamuragi who is mute and he tried to ask a young girl directions to the bathroom, however not being able to speak he is misunderstood and it accused of wanting to rape the young girl. This novel goes into concepts of miscommunication and rape and how much trouble one can get if the words aren’t said and fail to communicate their intentions.


Miscommunication, once again Nyamuragi ran off and flee the scene which caused him to look guilty. “…the one who runs is assumed guilty of one thing or another” (3). If one does not communicate they will be blamed how ever Nyamuragi ran because of fear and the community quickly blamed him due to the mens views towards women and believed it was a rape action.

414BS3QSsBL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Within the community, mothers fear for their daughters as rape has become a common thing and their lives are at risk. “For two months, the obsessive fear of rape has haunted this country’s women. Mothers make their little girls wear panties under their wraps when they go draw water and under their skirts when they go to school, when before they did not. Girls are required to go everywhere in groups” (15) Girls are viewed as an object and not valued.

In the novel and in our society, we can see how miscommunication can lead to a big mess and how rape stories are bringing more awareness to the issue. Unknown


In the story of Baho! by Roland Rugero, we are given the circumstances of a mute man who unfortunately is accused of rape due to a misunderstanding. While the story focuses on the mute, Nyamuragi, and his accusers using him as a lightning rod for the problems they also created, the story has an interesting way of talking about humanity.

In one instance we see Nyamuragi reminiscing about his youth, after he became permanently mute we see that, ” Nyamuragi had learned too early, and at his own expense, that life is composed of dualities… As long as that duality is present in every breath, life will continue with ease; between the two poles of the duality, everything can be compared.” (Baho! 13) and with that we get an idea of this world where people will be  divided. Everything will stay the same except for what the people will compare amongst themselves is better in this world of duality. No matter how much change there is they will always be duality, with ideals to oppose one another and compare themselves to another.

Another instance of Humanity is when the Burundi men gather to discuss what Nyamuragi did to Kigeme and how the women are reacting to the situation. In fact when the woman are reacting to the situation (very gloomingly), the men, “…tactlessly comment on the gloomy murmur rising from the feminine sex below…. Their honor must be avenged because their domain has been desecrated… Excuse me! Him! That unfortunate freak of nature. He has desecrated their domain and sullied their wealth” (Baho! 26) which shows that the men don’t really care for the women or at the very least see them as less than people and more as valuable objects (after all the women are reacting this way because the men in the area have treated most of them terribly). The men act terribly towards the women who care for them and now that they (the women) are coming together and reacting to this built up mistreatment, the men must act as if they are in the right by punishing Nyamuragi, the worst offender in the spotlight. Though the men don’t really contemplate on their actions, only that they themselves must react to the situation and be in the women’s favor less they start asking to judge the men who mistreat them.


Relevance: The women criticize the men because the men treated them terribly, and the men (while acknowledging they are terrible) don’t really see that their behavior is the problem to the women.

Finally, another thing that the novel touches on Humanity is that words have become weak with one another. An example is the saying “May I undress my daughter if I stole the money!” which originally was a strong saying that because no one would dare believe that a father would do such a heinous act. Now thanks to the wars fought in their country, where countless heinous acts were committed and burned into the memories of everyone, these words have lost power. In fact, “”In public, swearing by “Ndaka…” “May I…”, now provokes disapproval. If shared, it then becomes disgust”( Baho! 43) and a man who does swear by this, “… will quickly find himself presumed guilty of the act. Out of caution. While waiting for the evidence” ( Baho! 43).  And this shows that the people who live there have lost faith in one another, with a saying that would normally provide  an atmosphere of innocence until proven guilty now leading to the people immediately judging the man guilty before he is placed on trial. It’s similar to how people in America would usually believe an “I’m innocent” or “I apologize for this misconduct (sexual or other”, which would leave the accused with the benefit of the doubt, now leading the accused to be immediately seen as guilty in the eyes of the people. In other words, we have lost hope in humanity.

That’s how much an apology means nowadays, how much words have lost their power to the poeple. It can be mocked and picked apart to the bones because deep down it doesn’t convince you that that person is genuinely sincere. They’re only protecting their image until people forget.

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Images of Jesus in Postcolonial African Literature: Baho! and Tram 83

Though Roland Rugero’s Baho! and Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s Tram 83 are both set in postcolonial African nations—Burundi and The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) respectively—their narratives focus on extremely different topics. Tram 83 is centered on political corruption, the effects of postcolonialism, and the detriments brought about by capitalism, whereas Baho! gives more attention to African philosophy (where Africans fit into the universe) and the power of language. Despite these differences, as they are stories set in areas right next to each other, they share a few similarities as well, a significant one being their usage of the image of Jesus Christ, the central figure in Christianity, a religion brought to African nations as a result of colonialism. Yet again, however, between the two novels, this symbol is utilized in different ways that better fit their respective narratives.

In Baho!, Jesus is used as a symbol of martyrdom and innocence. Nyamuragi, a mute man accused of rape as a result of a misunderstanding, is tried for his alleged crime and brutally beaten on his way to the execution site. He tries to say, “ego” (yes), admitting to a crime that he is not guilty of and mentioned in the text as taking “upon himself the responsibility for all of humanity’s faults”, all of which mirrors Jesus Christ’s treatment at his own trial and his act of sacrifice to save humanity from sin (Rugero 30). Rugero goes on later to describe sheep, an animal that Jesus is likened to (John 1:29), as Nyamuragi’s brothers and associates them with sacredness and peace (Rugero 17, 54). These connections are made to really drive the idea that Nyamuragi is more than an innocent man. He isn’t just not guilty of this crime—he is a victim in the society in which he lives, and is unjustly reviled. Comparison to Jesus, someone that many readers are familiar with, is also used in order to better foster sympathy for Nyamuragi as well.

Tram 83 looks at Jesus through a different lens; instead of a symbol of innocence, Jesus is more of an agent of change. The final chapter of the novel is titled “The Three Kings”, who in the Bible, are three men ordered by King Herod of Judea to find baby Jesus, succeed, and ultimately run away from Herod as they find out his plans to kill the infant, as Jesus is prophesied to become a king, threatening his rule. In this analogy, the Three Kings are the main characters of the book: Lucien, Malingeau, and Requiem, who run away from the dissident General (Herod), after having published a book about the titular tram and distributed nude photos of the General to the public.

The identity of Jesus in this analogy, however, is unclear. It could be the photos of the General, a smaller naked king, nakedness being commonly associated with babies, or it could be the novel’s three kings, who ultimately bring about this change and exist in a trinity, similar to that of the Bible’s Godhead (Father, Spirit, Son). Both ultimately lead to the closure of the Tram and the mines, which served as huge sources of corruption within the novel’s society. Either way, the symbolism shows the reader that great change can be brought about by the actions of ordinary people, connecting the image of a god to simple objects and individuals. We cannot wait for those in power (those who benefit from oppressive systems) to reshape harmful structures—it is up to us.

Overall, the mere inclusion of references to Christianity in both novels illustrate lingering effects of colonialism, as it was those who colonized these countries that brought this religion to them. Since then, authors such as Mujila and Rugero have taken something associated with colonial rule and have used it to connect to their readers and establish resonant themes such as innocence and change. It is used as a tool of criticism towards those who have adapted this religion, one that is supposedly based on love, but is practiced by those whose actions contradict it.


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