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>First time for a white guy

December 23, 2010

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I’ve just spent two days in the countryside with one of the teachers that participated in the workshop last week. This was the first trip I’ve taken in Rwanda with public transportation, and what a trip it was!
First, I got on a bus (a minivan, really) with the most beautiful black woman I’ve seen in my life. Breathtakingly beautiful. However, people in Rwandan buses (or public minivans) are sardined together so I actually didn’t see her until she got off in spite of the fact that she was sitting next to me.
Then, I had to take another one for a longer leg of the ride. This one smelled like… Well, it smelled like shit. Human, if you were interested to know. It’s amazing how fast you get used to smells and it didn’t really bother me for the following hour or so.
Then I met with Fausin. His village is on top of a hill, a 15 minutes ride from the main (main is a bit of a stretch) road and a (steep) climb on the back of a motorcycle. I keep getting a kick out of the amazed looks I get as a white guy in these villages. In this particular one, I was told that I’m the third white person to ever visit (when the second was there just last week). Some of the people look so perplexed that they just stop and stare with dropped jaws. If an alien drove an ice cream truck through their village playing “La Vida Loca,” this would probably be the look he’d get.
Now, all that is fine and there’s nothing new about it. However, as we were climbing up the hill, we drove pass a child that must have been four or five years old. When he saw me, he stopped, stared for a second and then ran away, screaming in fear at the top of his lungs. My driver laughed and I considered getting offended until I realized that it’s very possible that he has never seen a white person before. Pretty cool, isn’t it?
 Final thought: as a white person here, your mere existence is reduced to being a “Mzungu.” It mean “white person” (or white devil in other african countries) and holds a few implication, the main one being that you must be filthy rich. It’s been a while since I had to deal with people who first see me as an ATM and then a person. When you drive by the children will greet you with “Mzungu” cries and faces full of smiles, the adults might say it to one another and the brave ones will turn it into “Mzungu give me money” (those of you who know me well might imagine how annoyed I instantly get). Well, yesterday I heard another variation, which I liked a lot: “Mzungu Camera!” I love it! I’m going to start a business in Rwanda and call it Mzungu Camera. It’s going to make millions (of Rwandan Francs, which aren’t worth much).
And now: pitures (without a “c”). They don’t have much to do with the text, but have a lot to do with family. Maybe because I miss mine. 

Faustin, his wife and daughter.

This one doesn’t have to do with family. This is a genocide prisoner who’s doing community work as a part of Rwanda’s extensive reconciliation program. I won’t elaborate on that cause it will take me far too many words to share all my thoughts about it. I”ll just leave you with this: all the people in the background are genocide killers. They are doing community work (paving roads and such) using the same tools they used to slaughter 1,200,000 Tutsis (pitchforks, machetes, picks, etc.). There live in the community and there is nobody guarding them. And they don’t escape.  

Faustin’s mother-in-law makes moonshine. Not really, she actually makes Sourgum beer and has a little saloon where people can sit and drink. in the mix: children, grandmothers, nursing moms. 

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One Comment
  1. >These are great, Udi! Great story too! (Love the cow!)

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