Uncovering the misconstrual of Inheritance and Legacy from the standpoint of Rwandans

By Esther Muhozi
On 16 September 2023 at 09:35

Inheritance and legacy are two concepts deeply ingrained in our lives, shaping our understanding of wealth, values, and societal impact. However, as we delve into the thoughts of Rwandan citizens from various walks of life, we realize that these terms carry diverse meanings and implications. In this article, we explore the nuanced perspectives on inheritance and legacy, drawing from interviews with individuals of different backgrounds and experiences. From their insights, we will attempt to differentiate these two concepts and gain a deeper understanding of their significance in Rwandan society.

"Inheritance" is almost exclusively used to deal with physical or monetary goods, features, or character traits; you can inherit your father’s estate, you can inherit your mother’s good looks, you can inherit your grandfather’s business sense.

"Legacy" can be used in that same sense, but it can also have a much broader sense to refer to a situation that is set up for for the benefit of the descendents, "Our parents’ legacy was not simply that they bequeathed us ten million dollars each, but that with that money in trust, we felt free to explore, experiment, and take risks that we would not have been able to, had we not had that safety net available."

"Inheritance" is generally from the viewpoint of the receiver, while "legacy" is from the viewpoint of the giver: My inheritance was my father’s legacy

"Inheritance" is often associated with material possessions, properties, and assets passed down from one generation to the next. It is a viewpoint largely concerned with what the receiver obtains from their ancestors.

Here’s how some interviewees perceive legacy:

According to an editor in his early 30s, Inheritance, comprises properties and assets bequeathed from someone. It is the tangible wealth that one inherits while Legacy is about good deeds that an individual will be remembered for.

Diane Mukahirwa, a journalist in her early 20s: Diane concurs, emphasizing that inheritance consists of material things like museums, furniture, money, gifts, or support for a better future, usually from one’s family.

Ntwali Bruno, a receptionist in a law firm, reiterates the materialistic aspect of inheritance, referring to cash, houses, and businesses. He points out that these assets are typically handed down within the family.

Muhozi Fulgence, School Director, and Senior in Sociology adds depth to the definition by suggesting that inheritance can include intangible assets, such as values, morals, and ethics, passed from one generation to the next.

On the other hand, "legacy" encompasses a broader sense of what is left behind by an individual or generation, with a focus on the societal impact and values instilled

For Josepha Mafubo, a copywriter, legacy extends beyond material possessions and refers to what we leave behind for society and the environment. It’s about the impact we have on the world.

Ritah Queen, an undergraduate in Marketing associates legacy with the admiration of one’s character, emphasizing that it involves leaving behind something inspiring.

Umutoni, an operations specialist, also highlights that legacy is about leaving achievements, dreams, and skills that inspire others.

Chris Teta, a Content Curator in his early 20s sees legacy as tied to one’s reputation and societal contributions. It’s about how an individual presents themselves to society and the impact they make.

Differentiating Inheritance and Legacy

While inheritance is primarily materialistic and focuses on the transfer of tangible assets within families, legacy transcends the material realm. It encompasses intangible assets like values, morals, ethics, and societal contributions. Moreover, inheritance is often seen from the receiver’s perspective, while legacy is about the giver’s impact on society and the values they leave behind.

Legacy can be positive or negative, depending on the influence an individual or generation has on their community. It can be seen in the enduring impact of philosophers, singers, and other famous individuals who have left their mark on history. In contrast, inheritance typically deals with the distribution of material wealth and assets, but it can also involve the passing down of non-material blessings and values.

As we navigate the diverse thoughts and perspectives of Rwandan citizens on inheritance and legacy, it becomes evident that these concepts are deeply ingrained in our society and culture. They shape our understanding of wealth, values, and societal impact. While inheritance primarily deals with material possessions and assets passed down within families, legacy encompasses a broader sense of societal impact and the values individuals or generations leave behind.

Understanding these distinctions is essential for reflecting on our own lives and the legacies we hope to leave behind. In the end, the meaning of inheritance and legacy is a matter of personal interpretation and cultural context, making it a topic that continues to challenge and engage society’s collective consciousness.

Different people, different minds, different perspectives, age groups, backgrounds and experience have a vast understanding on the aspect of Legacy and Inheritance. As you can see from these different views, it is a topic that is challenging and has challenged society for quite some time. Jump and with us as we dive into differentiating these two and give your own thought. We are yet to know what is what. My guess is as good as yours