Idamange Iryamugwiza: The Power of Introverts

Idamange Iryamugwiza Yvonne

By Mwungeri

The Introvert/extrovert divide is the most fundamental dimension of personality. And at least a third of us are on the introverted side. Without Introverts we couldn’t have the Apple computer, the theory of relativity or Van Gogh’s sunflowers. Yet recently extroverts have taken over. Sensitivity and seriousness are seen as undesirable.

Montgomery, Alabama. December 1, 1955. Early evening. A public bus pulls to a stop and a sensibly dressed woman in her forties gets on. She carries herself erectly, despite having spent the day bent over an ironing board in a dingy basement tailor shop at the Montgomery Fair department store. Her feet are swollen, her shoulders ache. She sits in the first row of the Colored section and watches quietly as the bus fills with riders.Until the driver orders her to give her seat to a white passenger. 

The woman utters a single word that ignites one of the most civil rights protests of the twentieth century, one word that helps America find its better self.

The word is “No.”

The driver threatens to have her arrested. 

” You may do that. ” says Rosa Parks.

A police officer arrives. He asks Parks why she won’t move.”

Why do you all push us around ? ” she answers simply. 

” I don’t know, ” he says. ” But the law is the law, and you’re under arrest.

“On the afternoon of her trial and conviction for disorderly conduct, the Montgomery Improvement Association holds a rally for Parks at the Holt Street Baptist Church, in the poorest section of town. Five thousand gather to support Parks’s lonely act of courage. They squeeze inside the church until its pews can hold no more. The rest wait patiently outside, listening through loudspeakers. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd. ” There comes a time that people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression,” he tells them. ” There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amidst the piercing chill of an Alpine November.”

He praises Parks’s bravery and hugs her. She stands silently, her mere presence enough to galvanize the crowd. The association launches a citywide bus boycott that lasts 381 days. The people trudge miles to work. They carpool with strangers. They change the course of American history.

Rosa Parks had always been imagined as a stately woman with a bold temperament, someone who could easily stand up to a busload of glowering passengers. But when she died in 2005 at the age of ninety-two, the flood of obituaries recalled her as soft-spoken, sweet, and small in stature. They said she was “timid and shy” but had “the courage of a lion.” They were full of phrases like “radical humility” and “quiet fortitude.”What does it mean to to be quiet and have fortitude ? these descriptions asked implicitly. How could you be shy and courageous ?

Parks herself seemed aware of this paradox, calling her autobiography Quiet Strength_ a title that challenges us to question our assumptions. Why shouldn’t quiet be strong ? 

Shortly after Idamange Iryamugwiza Yvonne posted her first video on YouTube, most people who watched it grew an increasing curiosity to know more about her. Igihe.com investigatingly contacted people who had known her during her high school days. They unanimously reported that she had been very quiet and introverted. In one of her YouTube videos, Idamange herself said that making public speeches was not her cup of tea. Enough was enough and she could no longer keep silent over unbearable social injustice. 

Idamange has tremendously demonstrated uncanny power behind her persona. Even her malicious ardent detractors have unwittingly recognized her power through the way they reacted to her videos on social medias by launching very big vilifying smear campaigns, the incident of her brutal arrest all the way to her recent appeal in a staged trial.

Although Yvonne humbly attributed her powerful unique courage to God, it can also be explained by her creative introversion from a purely psychological standpoint. 

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