Rwanda, SilverBacks and the crying brides!

Rwanda is beautiful; they proudly call it the land of a thousand hills. It’s a pretty small country; you can see the borders of neighbouring countries when you stand on high ground. That is what a Rwandese acquaintance told me as he pointed to Mt Karisimbi which is on the border with DR Congo.
Patriotism would obviously require me to praise and brand my country Kenya, but yenyewe is something is beautiful, it’s beautiful

. First, Rwanda is a very clean country; they have a cleaning day once in a month where everyone participates in cleaning the country. Honestly i do not see this ever happening in Kenya, at least not until a dozen years after 2079; we are too busy being the Big Brother in the EAC to set time every month for general cleaning.

Besides, we have the Municipal councils for that, don’t we? If we resort to cleaning the city ourselves, won’t that doom the said workers to redundancy?

But perhaps what makes Rwanda so clean is their environmental policy of having no plastic wrappers and bags. Right at the border they inform you of that and kindly ask that you leave whatever polythene material you may have carried from Kenya through Uganda at the Rwanda border point, Katuna!

The people are very generous and kind hearted; always ready to lend a helping hand. I encountered their generosity from the moment we landed at Kigali International Airport till the day we left. A good lady on the same flight was willing to give me a ride (and her boyfriend did not seem to object) to my destination,Ruhengeri which happened to be on their way.

The moment i got temporarily detained by security at the airport her boyfriend convinced her to leave me, you never know what these Kenyans carry in their bags (mine was a bit bulgy at the bottom), they are a fishy people, look at his beard, maybe he is on FBI’s most wanted list, he must have told her!

We were there on a job courtesy of Governors Camp, to sand and polish the beautiful timber floor they have at Governors Sabyinyo Lodge,a serene, picturesque place shadowed by the imposing, Misty Mount Sabyinyo.

My colleagues got there a day before me coz i had to connect through someplace else and make it to Rwanda in time for the agreed date to commence works.

Now, we had this huge, state-of-the-art floor sanding machine that no one knew how to operate apart from yours truly. The machine, an Italian design, is a thing of beauty and sands timber in the most perfect way. The mere fact that the team had to wait for me to connect and tether the beast was not only beguiling to the locals but also a thing of mystery. Their reaction was something close to what our ancestors displayed when they saw a train for the first time!

None dared touch it out of fear that it would roar to life and gobble up them up, very much the same way Jonah of the bible was swallowed by a whale. They perhaps expected a particularly remarkable human being who possessed some powers to come around and tame the Italian beast. I somehow feel my lean, frail self was a disappointment to them; it dashed all hopes they had on ‘remarkability’ against Sabyinyo Mountain and left it to the mercy of the Silverback Gorillas.

My guys had enjoyed the privilege of taking a tour to see the forlorn looking Silverbacks. I declined the offer after a local told me that those things have feelings and if they don’t like you they could possibly harm you; one by slapping you (there is a very minimal chance of surviving a Gorilla slap) or two by screaming into your ear. The latter will without failure render you deaf. Am not sure whether it was true and i wasn’t willing to find out on my own.

Then came the day we were to test the machine. The guys at the lodge were all there to see how the beast would come to life. I took my time, savouring the moment. I had my laptop open on a desk at a corner and i shuffled between connecting the machine to ‘studying’ something keenly on the comp. I was actually LOLling on Facebook with someone back home.

Alafu i would rub my beard sagaciously in the process, look at the machine and shake my head. I summoned (man this word has power!) the electrician, asked him how much power we had at the lodge in Kilowatts. He murmured some numbers and an explanations which i did not even understand coz I’m absolutely clueless about electricity. Well, one thing i know is that electricity kills, period!

Ultimately, the machine was ready to work. I fixed the spherical sandpapers and without warning to the spectators pressed the power button. It came to life and man you should have seen the spectacle; people ran, others even climbed trees, some almost dug out holes into the timber, similar to how a cat digs when covering up its poop, only a bit deeper, a little more desperate!

They only crawled back later when they were sure all it could cut into was timber!

During our time there we made lots of friends with the locals. They seemed overly curious of our country Kenya, asking about our famous Matatus, robberies (oh yes!) and such stuff. Some expressed their wish to visit, saying that going to Nairobi was their dream!

Most of them have a problem with English; we mostly conversed in broken Swahili. I however came to learn that their language is very much like my own Gikuyu dialect. This i learnt after i took my pants to a tailor, a young lass who i guess was barely eighteen. I explained to her, with actions even, how far i wanted her to trim the pants; I marked the point with chalk. An hour later i go back and she had trimmed it in half, like it was now a short!

They however speak French very well. In the process of arguing with the underage tailor i employed all means including my Gikuyu language coz i know very little French myself. Actually, the French i know is so little that if it were food it would be barely enough to feed an ant for a day!

And that little French i heard in a song, Avec Moi’ blah blah Moline Rouge blah blah blah. I think it is pronounced as avek mwaah…what’s with the French and kissing?

Oh, lately another French phrase has been imposed upon us, the Je Suis thing which means ‘I am’. Not sure though, whether if am to say ‘I am not’ i would say Je Suis first then shake my head, educate me guys!

After about 2 weeks of working under the Misty mountain which reminded me of John Denver’s Country Roads, we headed back to Kenya. Some ladies who had grown very fond of my charming colleagues begged us to take them back with us. A particular lass who had taken one of our guys to meet her dad was on the verge of tears, she ran after our van crying loudly, i swear we almost went back. We however did not want to be accosted by the no nonsense Rwandese border police while having a minor who had no formal documentation with us…….


8 thoughts on “Rwanda, SilverBacks and the crying brides!

  1. Jealous…i have planning to go to Rwanda, Kigali for ages now. Enjoy your trip. Wish you had pics for this post.

    Kindly change the fonts to be uniform. The mixture of regular and italics, throws off the reader.Not sure if it was deliberate ama missed something.

    • HA!! Your comments are in italics too……thanks alot for the observation, am changing it immediately. And yes, you should visit Rwanda, it’s lovely….i still remember how i marvelled at the beauty of the morning mist hanging from Mt Sabyinyo….lovely!!

  2. God Willing. You will be suprised how Kinyarwanda is so similar to Kikuyu. like in Kyuk 500 bob is ‘magana matano’…’s the same in their language!! I guess it’s coz we are all Bantus. Then they have soldiers stationed everywhere, in towns, villages and the forest. At first it bothered us but after a few days we got used to it.

  3. Well told. That’s one country I’ve waited to visit and will probably do over this Easter, by road. Many years back I used to listen to BBC Swahili and would sometimes catch Kinyarwanda radio transmission by error. It’s very very similar to Gikuyu…magana a phrase I remember.

    • It is indeed a beautiful country. And yes, the two languages are very similar. I actually found it easier conversing in Gikuyu than Swahili, that way we would understand each other much better.

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