Bwiza Sekamana is one of Rwanda's women parliamentarians. I met Bwiza when Commonwealth women leaders were convening in Nairobi for a leadership workshop. She looked full of life, beaming with joy and enthusiasm about women.
I was there to invite Bwiza for an interview at our studios. I had not met her before then.So I did not know what she looked liked , neither was I sure of the correct pronunciation of her name. I just carried her business card I got from my colleague and went searching for her from among the workshop attendees.
Then, some one who knew her told me ' she is the long haired one in a brown coat '
I walked right across the room, stealthily so as not to interrupt the session with my noisy heels.
I introduced myself and asked her to see me for a few minutes. Bwiza's amazing response is that she talked to me as if I was an old friend she had missed for a long time. She gave me a warm smile and hug.
When I told her that I am a journalist, she said, ' Yes I am happy to see young women taking up roles like this. I am happy. I want to see assertive women.'
It was very encouraging that she appreciated my work even though we had never worked together before.
She made me believe that reassuring young girls of their dreams and career tracks is the first step to kicking failure out of our families or schools or workplace.
Her simple words reassuring me that I was doing worthy work pumped some positive energy into me.
Bwiza was however disappointed that a lot of Kenyan women had not shown up for the workshop. ' I must say I am disappointed that our Kenyan sisters had not shown up in large numbers. Women must take every opportunity offered to them to advance development of their community.'
Kenya is still struggling to see the one third gender representation rule implemented. They are moving at a slow pace. That was one of the reasons Kenya was chosen to host the women leadership conference. It was a step towards
Rwanda however has half of its parliament filled with women representatives.
Rwanda's life after 1994 has been what we can call real change. Rwanda began to witness end of tribalism, so rampant in African societies.
Recently I heard of Rwanda's peace gardens. This was an initiative where community members especially women keep a kitchen garden which they invite neighbours to till with them as they engage in reconciliation efforts.
This , plus the Gacaca courts have seen the Rwanda community under the leadership of half women parliaments grow to become one of Africa's stable democracies and economies.
Bwiza, to me is the face of Rwanda's women leadership that I have conviction , will continue to change society for the better.