Monthly Archives: February 2013

In Kigali, Rwanda


Once, a while back now, I scrounged on a study tour to Rwanda. It included  trips to Rwanda’s Ministry of Defence, the genocide memorials and even Rwanda’s Liberation Day celebrations in Kigali Stadium. We got invitation cards from Kagame, like those ones you get for a Harambee, inviting us to the celebration and also a drinks reception at the state house that evening. We did go for the celebrations at Kigali Stadium, but voted to ditch the reception in favor of a club with women of tight waists and loser morals. (just kidding :D)

Driving through Uganda, our bus stopped for the usual distractions, ie barabara Kenchic just into the the border of UG. I don’t know about you, but I have never seen a chicken that big. I long-ago concluded that it’s crane-meat, their national bird. But then again, the chicks in UG don’t come small around the thighs. ( I know someone is frowning at all these references, it’s part of the reason I didn’t tell you about the blog, haha)

Stolen from Savvy's blog

Stolen from Savvy’s blog

Into Kampala traffic, and into Wandegeya, the 24-hour student street apparently.

Uganda 0 Kenya 1

Uganda 0 Kenya 1

We were spending the night in College Hotel or College Inn, I don’t remember the exact name. All I remember is that someone’s toilet had a MASSIVE floater going on, it was phenomenal. I/We had to fish it out with a paper bag for gloves. (interesting the things I volunteer for, because last year I just remembered I had to fish out a dame’s phone from a public toilet in the middle of nowhere…shitty experience…and then there was another time I had to work with pigs, it also involved stinky fingers…anyway…)

The view from my window

The view from my window

So yes, Wandegeya for the night, and UG’s club scene is indeed 24/7/365. It was a Monday but the clubs were full, and we were the only under-dressed Kenyans there. I remember this one club, that had 3 really hot girls I assumed (imagined?) were dying for some Kenyan company. Basically, at some point, rather than endure my small-talk and shabby ways (t-shirt and trackpants against Dr.Mitch’s brothers all dolled up like Lucy Kibaki) they switched language. It was one of those moments you shuffle away like you have better things to do on the dancefloor. Btw, Bell is the worst beer in the world.

I got over my heartache and eventually ended up in Rwanda, which was a lot hotter –  in temperature and eh, landscape… you guy.

But onto more serious things, you probably know about the genocide that happened there in 1994 – not a long time ago considering 800,000 people were killed (officially), but the numbers, we heard were probably reaching towards 1.2 million. Like I said, we went to a lot of genocide memorials, and throughout our 9/10 days there, it was very clear that they considered and labelled the genocide a Tutsi genocide thought they also recognize the moderate Hutus that died defending their fellow countrymen. In retrospect, what struck me most about what happened in Rwanda (especially when compared Kenya’s Post Election Violence) was the fact that the violence happened even in universities. This evil had gone beyond social class, imagine your lecturer or fellow student turning on you in your dorm or class..

Kigali Memorial Centre

Kigali Memorial Centre – Names of  people who were killed in the genocide

Kigali Memorial Centre

Kigali Memorial Centre

Kagame, fought back rebel style, leading the RPF- Rwandan Patriotic Front. He eventually became the president, and still is the president right now. Off course this isn’t the whole story, and the situation there was much more complicated than Kenya’s PEV, and there were numerous other people and countries involved including Museveni who was backing Kagame’s rebels. He seems well loved in Rwanda to this day, because at the Liberation Day we got to attend, the crowd literally erupted in cheers when he came into the stadium.

Crowd  at Liberation Day - Kigali Stadium Jul 4th 2009

Part of the crowd at Liberation Day – Kigali Stadium Jul 4th 2009

Traditional Dance

Traditional Rwandese dance  and a random white dude in the  black suit

We also made a trip to their parliament, which was super-modern, beating Kenya’s in looks, investment and most importantly, probably effectiveness as well. They were already electronically voting on decisions back then, and each seat had a mic. The young parliamentarians we met/saw were seemingly quite modest with their RAV 4’s, tax-paying habits and praise for Kenya.

I think the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ Defence, don't remember

I think the Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ Defence, don’t remember – 2009

It was a really interesting trip, quite romantic in the sense that Rwanda was a country with so much hope and positivity, you couldn’t help but get caught up in it. So much beauty too, so many resources, and such a seemingly strong sense of fellowship that we felt in some of the bundus we visited.  Bundus we got to after long slow drives into the sunset (there was a speed limit of 60kph or something ridiculous), up winding hills that overlooked major construction projects in the valleys below from collaborations of the government and a lot of foreign investment. Off course hospitality, too much food and Mutzig (their 1 litre beer) had a part to play in how romanced we felt during our time there.

124530777386

Mutzig

124530792386

Slimy but interesting Escago- mucusy appetizer close to border with Burundi

124530787386

Naturally it seems, since then I’m always pretty interested to hear/find out what’s going on in Rwanda. Things that stood out include the 1-laptop per child policy. Basically all school kids get a laptop as a government initiative- though it’s a partnership with an NGO that already exists. France finally admitting (but not really)  their role in the genocide, it all seems like sunny days to me.

But Kagame has also been often accused of dictatorship tendencies. There was this interview with Fareed Zakaria of CNN (who was since fired for other reasons).

I remember watching that interview, and the one thing I thought Kagame brought out strongly, was that coming from where Rwanda had come from when he took power, there was no room for democracy- I agree with that philosophy. Singapore and Kenya were on the same level in the mid 70’s. The founder of modern Singapore-kicking-Kenya’s-ass- Lee Kuan Yew’s thoughts on democracy are that first you need to sort out your basic issues like getting rid of malaria before you talk about the lofty idea of democracy…and that to me makes a lot of sense.

But still, there have been uncomfortable stories, like the one about the Rwandan army chief who fell out with Kagame accusing him evils including corruption and then exiled himself to South Africa. He was shot while in South Africa and his family accused the Kagame administration of an assassination attempt;  the Rwandese government in turn claim to have linked him with terrorist activity in Kigali. Terror here being possible links with the FDLR- the guys who started the genocide back in 1994, who though were defeated (hence the genocide ended) are just hanging about allegedly waiting to strike again, from nearby DRCongo. It’s not a crystal clear situation, a lot seems to be going on behind the scenes.

But I suppose the most nagging thing for me is Victoire Ingabire . Victoire was set to run against Kagame for president back in 2010, she didn’t cause she was placed under house arrest in the run-up, and has since been investigated and interrogated over links with the FDLR. She’s also been accused of belittling the genocide that happened, because she asked for the Hutus that were killed at the time to also be officially remembered. It is a fact that so-called ‘moderate Hutus’ were also killed in the genocide, so considering in the same speech she was reportedly asking for reconciliation and justice for the Tutsi that suffered, I think there’s clearly more at play.

Photo Credit: STEVE TERRILL/AFP/Getty Images

Victoire Ingabire Photo Credit: STEVE TERRILL/AFP/Getty Images

Last year, Victoire was arrested and sentenced to 8 years in prison on suspicion of “threatening national security and public order” and of “buying and distributing arms and ammunitions”  to the FDLR.

I don’t know what’s true and what’s not, but all this sounds unpleasantly familiar.

Tagged , , , , ,

Welcome Back


Happy New Year everyone!

I don’t know what people say when they neglect their duties for oh so long. I obviously haven’t posted in a while, and I was flattered to see that a couple of friends asked what’s not going on and the blog stats on this also went almost to zero.It’s flattering because it means some people actually purpose to come here, and I think a big part of blogging is knowing that people will read your stuff. I always wonder if its egotistic or attention seeking but who cares 😀

It’s not that there hasn’t been anything to write about, but I have to be honest too, that Wales doesn’t always turn me on 24/7 like Pakistan did. So my thoughts are processed much slower and are never as exciting. Though, there have been some interesting discoveries here too, like that white girls love smelling their own hair ‘secretly’ though I always catch them at it. I dunno if you Miros usually smell your braids/dreads or your hair if its long enough? Also, Chinese people (because of the hours they spend in class I concluded) can do really REALLY cool things with their pens in class. They spin them and do a lot of cool almost circus shit without blinking away from the lecturer. And another thing about the Chinese is that they are efficient, but in a chaotic way as opposed to Germans who are efficient in a clean way. They even eat raw pork (what would Moha do?) and really you must be efficient if you can make raw pork of all things safe for human consumption- tapeworms are usually rife in swines.

Yes, there have been things worth writing about. How great a cook I have become, I even make celery. #makofi! As in who makes celery unless they really know what they are doing. It tastes like toothpaste though, does anyone agree? It has a toothpasty thing going on, and if you don’t know what celery is google that shit ’cause you ain’t a pro until you know what celery is,

And off course I have also watched Dida being quite the specimen, and have been thoroughly impressed by Martha and Muite, and a little disappointed in ‘cattle lusra’ PK.

I have also answered a million questions (and in the process formulated theories and plans of action) when people ask me why the KE presidential debate is in English, why I talk to my family in English ( I often desparately clutch at ‘no, no I don’t speak English to my dad, we mix 3 languages…but yes, 90% is English!’ ) and whether everyone in Kenya speaks English…so then why is the presidential debate in English. #nocomment

I could also tell you about how I left Facebook and as a result my social life here is admittedly slightly handicapped, but because I am too proud to admit I might need it and that it is a big part of how we socialize so I am not re-opening it anytime soon. Like that Zuckerbag you ultimate father of stalker men! (Y)

Urm, I could also tell you about the slavery museum I saw in Liverpool. I even took notes at that museum, mad nerd tendencies, but only because I purposed to read more and download here. The museum will definitely come, briefly though, once upon a time, after too much wine, I declared that African Americans have nothing to do with Africa and should stop referring to themselves as such. I was speaking to an African American btw ( and I knew it #facepalm). Anyway, the slavery museum at Liverpool definitely changed my outlook.

In Liverpool too I met a couple of hippies, who taught me about The Beatles (whose hometown is Liverpool). They also taught me how to get on a train for free, how to pretend to be Spanish and ‘me not understanding englays’ when caught, and that Tescos ‘serves’ free food every night after hours.

Then off course there’s been the really heavy-duty stuff going on, how to strike a balance in the midst of that , learning to trust Sir God over again, carrying on in the face of adversity, hivo hivo. Lakini before we get so serious, there has also been an Abba concert thrown in somewhere there.

So in short, there’s much to be said, and it will be rolled out.

Oh and because I still meet people and recycle stories about the 2012 trip to K2, which btw, is the 2nd highest mountain in the whole wide world, and has some of the largest glaciers outside the Polar regions- just saying) I am planning 2013’s adventure, and it involves bulls, small streets and red scarves. It won’t be recorded with a funny Sony Ericsson though, ’cause an EOS 1100 is overdue and Inshallah on its way.

Ehhh, otherwise? Vote wisely, and it’s good to be back.

Tagged