What makes a happy ending? Is it that the boy and girl end up together and we assume it was “happily ever after”? Maybe as children we accept that, but as Roland Rugero says in Baho!, “adults know the end is not always so nice” (pg 68). Most stories, we will never know the true end at all. Because of this, we need to focus on not on endings or fairytales but on living our own lives.
In Baho!, Rugero utilizes a tale to show how “the proverb molds what exists” (pg 59). There’s a girl, the most beautiful girl in the land, but her father will not marry her off because he’s holding out for a man he thinks is good enough. She gets sick, nearly meets her death, but then the man comes back and they get married and all is well. Or so it seems. These kind of stories stand on somewhat of a shaky premise already. The man gets the most beautiful woman in all the land while the woman gets…to not die. What a prize, right?
This kind of tale helps shape the attitudes towards women in Baho! The men expect them to just be grateful that they are married at all, and that should be their “happy ending”. They don’t consider that in reality, this kind of fairytale ending is rather misleading. We don’t know where the fairytale couples’ lives go from there. Sure, they could be happy, but what if he makes her miserable? Or what if it’s the other way around?
This is similar to the framework for Baho!. We get to hear this one little snippet from Nyamuragi’s life, fear forhis life when he’s tortured and nearly put to death due to false rape accusations, but then that’s it. The people’s court doesn’t kill him, but we have no idea how the rest of his life plays out. He could’ve died two days later for some unrelated reason. There is a true ending that we will never know, maybe the author doesn’t even know.
For many, this can be frustrating. Humans often want to know everything there is to know, past, present, and future. Rugero does well in reminding us that we shouldn’t get so wrapped up in these notions. While it is important to wonder and keep an open mind, “the essential thing is to live” (pg 69). Also, while tales are important parts of culture and do effect our expectations, we shouldn’t let them restrict our own thinking so much that we believe life has to happen a specific way. We have to put the majority of our focus on our own life and our own stories, making the best of everything we can.