Monday, September 6, 2010

A busy first weekend

I arrived in Kinihira Friday. Saturday I walked 50 minutes to the nearest market town with R., the scientist’s houseboy (she’s on leave in the US). Gakere isn’t much, but it’s got more going on than Kinihira - there’s actually fruit for sale, there’s a butcher shop and a bar that sells brochettes, and some of the milk bars actually sell sambusa (in Kinihira it’s just bread and donuts). There are a lot more houses, but still no power. R. makes great company - he’s incredibly smart and eager to improve his English but also a great Kinyarwanda teacher. Although he’s 24, he still has a year left of secondary school - he’s been working to save money for it.

Today was Inauguration Day. Apparently each umudugudu was given 50,000RWF ($90) to celebrate - in Kinihira the entire sum seems to have been applied to sorghum beer, with maybe a few Fantas. There’s got to be at least 25,000 imidugudu in Rwanda - that’s a lot of beer money!

In the afternoon I joined R. in his reading group. He admitted 10 kids to the yard and we read a picture book to them, R. assisting my attempts to translate. More kids peered at us from behind the fence. Afterwards I passed out crayons (thanks Auntie K + Uncle C!) so the kids could draw a scene from the book. The book was about a tree that’s to be cut down in the Amazon, and the reasons the various forest inhabitants give about the tree’s importance. The snake’s plea was ineffective here: he said his fathers and his fathers’ fathers had lived in the tree. 16 years ago this village didn’t exist, so the importance of an ancestral home has little resonance in Kinihira.

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