I think Rwanda is a place my mom would like. Girls walk to school in crisp white blouses and blue skirts. Grown men hold hands just because they’re friends. They talk about their faith in God. Worn dirt paths cut through lush, green hillsides. Vested motorcycle drivers hand passengers helmets before leaving the curb. Everyone buckles up the straps. Cars stop at crosswalks to let people saunter across. Plastic bags are illegal.
I spent a few days at a hostel in Johannesburg before I flew to Kigali a couple of weeks ago. Luckily I was away when the lodge was robbed at gunpoint. The owner though, was kicked in the ribs, hit over the head with the butt of a gun and threatened with a long jagged, sharpened piece of steel. The owner then watched the men open my suitcase, and make off with my laptop.
So far, I like Rwanda. In the mornings I walk down Butare’s busy main street and say good morning to people passing by. There are lots of people. Men who struggle to push bicycles loaded with heavy white sacks up the road. University students dressed in shiny shoes and belts. An old man with a hat and a cross around his neck. Women with tubs of sweet bananas balanced on their heads. I don’t know what they think about as they plod along the undulating road. Sometimes I think about what to eat for lunch.
On my first day in Rwanda, a new friend took me to some lovely gardens in Kigali. They’re right outside the Genocide Memorial Centre; so are the mass graves of 250 thousand Rwandans.
Rwanda is new to me. I’ve seen very little of the country and have much to explore and to learn. Even so, I’m here, teaching radio journalism to a class of 22 at the National University of Rwanda. How very lucky I am.