Category: Rwanda


african-oscars

Well now that we leave Africa soon (Boo Hoo!) Muni & Molly’s African Oscars are now published.

The categories are : (drum roll please)

1. Best Accommadation / Hotel : Green Turtle Lodge, Dixcove, Ghana
2. Worst Accommadation / Hotel : Pensão Leeta, Mocimboa da Praia, Mozambique

3. Best Meal : La Colombe, Constainia, Cape Town, South Africa
4. Worst Meal : Cafe No Name, Arsi Negele, Ethiopia

5. Best Transport : CTM, Morocco
6. Worst Transport : Burundi

7. Friendliest People : Tied at Burkina Faso and Malawi
8. Unfriendliest People : White Namibians

9. Best Value : Ghana
10. Worst Value : Rwanda

And last but by no means least…

11. Best Beer : Primus 720ml, Burundi
12. Worst Beer : Laurentina Stout, Mozambique

And the most coveted award for biggest tosser in Africa goes to….

The fat, Afrikaner, make-up put on with a cement mixer, hair-do like a bulldog’s arse, manager of the Cat Nap Guest House in Springbok for her inability to take a booking 3 whole weeks in advance. Moan about the check in time, lie about her presence prior to us checking in and then only say that we had booked one night when two were requested. I hope you catch the clap from a toilet seat and you choke on some worm infested biltong again. Congratulations, your golden Oscar is in the post.

We’ve also added some additional categories for those that were worthy of such an acolade.

They are:

Toughest Day : 8th April 2009, Butare, Rwanda after visiting a genocide memorial. (I talk about it HERE)

Most adventerous moment: Boarding a tug boat to travel down Lake Tanganyika en-route to Kigoma, Tanzania

The 5 best highlights (in no particular order):

1. Getting up close and personal with 5 Silverbacks in Parc National de Volcans, Rwanda
2. Being pamered in Madikwe Safari Lodge, South Africa
3. Juming out of a dhow, after spotting Dolphins, onto the best beach in Africa. Praia de Chocas, Mozambique
4. Standing on the precipace of the plateau in Dogon Country, Mali
5. Giggling at the confluence of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean’s at the southern most tip of Africa

Muni & Molly

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Well now that we leave East Africa tomorrow Muni & Molly’s East African Oscars are now published.

The categories are : (drum roll please)…

1. Best Hotel : Hottel Panari, Nairobi, Kenya
2. Worst Hotel : Hotel No Name Arsi Negele, Ethiopia

3. Best Meal : All of the meals in Masala Chatt, Kampala, Uganda
4. Worst Meal : Cafe No Name, Arsi Negele, Ethiopia

5. Best Transport : Rwanda
6. Worst Transport : Burundi & the worst road in Africa from Dar es Salaam to Kilwa Masoko

7. Friendliest People : Kenyans
8. Not so Friendly People : None really in East Africa : Well done !

9. Best Value : Uganda
10. Worst Value : Rwanda

And last but by no means least…

11. Best Beer : Primus 720ml, Burundi.
12. Worst Beer : Not one – just warm beer !

And the most coveted award for biggest tosser goes to….

Mr. Matatu Driver in Kampala for laughing at the customers and ignoring their pleas to stop. To the point were this humble writer had to grab the driver of a moving vehicle in a very agressive way causing many screams and general mayhem in the process!!! I hope you are plagued by punctures the rest of your days.

muni

What a difference a day makes

37, 37, 37 are the numbers, what numbers? Somehow without thinking, discussing or planning, we spent 37 nights in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. This pattern was not to be followed in kidogo kidogo Rwanda, 10 days was enough to see all it had to offer.

kiningi-panorama
On arrival over the border from Uganda, immediately there were differences; French speaking, unpacked buses that leave on time, lush green valleys, quite unassuming people, tea plantations, Rwandan francs, left hand drive, some men with scars on their faces, many young kids, waterfalls, rain and lots of it, cultivated terraced hills and people walking everywhere. Quite different to other East African countries.

Kigali and it’s thousand hills or milles collines offered up a struggle on the legs and lungs, good preparation for the gorillas. I have never been so glad that I gave up smoking in September! It is a clean city with good roads, no street sellers, no street food – both resulting in a hungry Jeanne and Jon as the food was dire. Well maybe not if you like salty gravy stuff on everything! And if you like bread, bananas and chips. Although that said Rwanda frites are said to be the best in Africa. Fruit magically grows legs and heads for a holiday over the border to the DRC. I hear Goma these days is meant to be a good spot for a weekend. Mory an Irish friend of a friend gratefully showed us what beers were good and we downed a few with her and Matt. Jon with the largest smile yet when a large Primus beer of 72cl, cold, was placed in his mitt.

So what is Rwanda best known for, gorillas or genocide? I am hoping it is gorillas and that was one of the main reasons we were here. I had been excited for weeks about seeing them in Parc Nacional des Volcans. The very pricey sum of $500 was paid each for a permit and off we went on the windy roads to Ruhengeri. Armed with rain jackets and thick socks, I was ready for anything, bar the steep incline of a walk up to the park boundary. Finally after about an hour at an altitude of 2,600m I reached the boundary wall red faced and struggling for breath. Immediately on entering the park itself the landscape changed to thick bamboo forest, eucalyptus, nasty stinging nettles, wet and slippery underfoot. Each step had to placed with care. The trackers ahead slashed a path for us, whilst an armed ranger kept an eye out. Suddenly after another hour, there they were. Incredible.

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The Susa group consists of 41 gorillas; 5 silver backs, juveniles, black backs, females and babies and I saw them all. Just metres away from us and at once stage a little too close when a silver back brushed by us, maybe one foot away. Heart thumping material. I smiled as soon as I saw the first black back just chomping on the young tasty bamboo shoots and smiled in awe at them for the hour. They played, tumbled, chased each other, beat their chests. So muscular, so powerful, so beautiful and so huge. And then a baby of three months clinging onto it’s mother’s back passed right by us, it’s huge eyes wondering who we were. An hour is all you get and not a minute more but I didn’t need a minute more as their images will be in my head forever. A day I will never forget.

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Gorillas done and genocide memorials seen, it was time to move on. It was a timely moment to be in Rwanda as it was the 15th year anniversary of the genocide. A reality check sinks slowly into my brain and the sadness of the genocide reality is even slower to leave. Rwanda in many ways is a country of contrasts, for me the highest point of my travels of seeing the gorillas and the lowest point of visiting memorials and talking to survivors. I leave Rwanda full of sadness. The most densely populated county in Africa and perhaps the world is by far the quietest country. I wonder why but think I know the answer.

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butare1-gorillas

Jeanne

No Ubuntu

Atop a hill, like a thousand other in Rwanda, we quietly walked behind a woman of about 30 years. She wears a bright red skirt, an immaculately pressed and clean white striped shirt, white socks and black shoes. The path well kept and covered in shards of quartzite and granite. An array of buildings ahead of us all looking long and roughly the same. About half way we see a group of women at the side of one building laughing and chatting. Washing clothes. They wave. We wave back. All behind the main building. A college.

Another woman waits patiently at the steps to the right most building for us to walk the 200 metres or so. She smiles and welcomed us warmly in French. She is in a bright yellow dress and somewhat older than the previous woman. She enquired as to our country. “Je suis Irlandais”. This is the only question she asks. Slowly she walks forward towards the first door. I notice a soldier further down the corridor. Armed and attentive, he eyes us up and down, then looks back at the panorama to my right. The door to my left is metal and heavy. The ochre red paint starting to peel. It creeks loudly and slowly. A pungent smell fills my nose immediately. Unlike anything I’ve smelt before. The walls concrete and bare. We are ushered further into the room. I look down.

There are ramshackle wooden tables. Put together without due care and attention. They are painted white and are about knee height or so. Three bouquets of flowers are on the bare floor. Kinyarwanda on their ribbons. On the tables lay the bodies of about fifty people. White from the lime. The smell is overpowering. The shock indescribable. Men, women and children. Shrivelled, twisted, disgruntled, disfigured and melted. All with various expressions. A tuft of hair. A leg with no foot. Toothless mouths. A lone skull. Flesh, withered. Shadows of their former selves. Murdered. ALL of them. Exhumed from a mass grave and on display. A macabre sight and the smell more so. We are ushered to the next room. “Chambre des Enfants”. This room just for the children. Again the door creeks. More ramshackle tables. More and more children. Sons & daughters. Just babies. I break down outside. The young women puts her arm around me and comforts me. She smiles and I don’t know why. My emotions uncontrollable as this horror drives home.

50,000 Tutsis murdered here in two days. 24 rooms with 50,000 withered, twisted, limed corpses inside. By bullet or machete, it didn’t matter. Neither did it matter about sex or age. We continue to each and every room. I force myself to do so. I can’t look at Molly. Nor she at I. A man turns up. A notable hole in his left forehead. He introduces himself. He mentions that only four survived. He is one. He did so by laying with the dead. We enter room after room, after room, after room of dead withered limed murdered people. The woman mentions that this one, of purely skulls and thigh bones, houses her husband and three children. Molly is on the verge. I wonder. “How she can go into this room daily ?… How can this man walk the ground where so many of his people, family and friends spent their last agonising minutes…?” The man motions in a chopping motion at one of the skulls. “Like this!!” he says. “Machete, Machete!!”.

We walk into another room where the clothes of the dead are. So many clothes and four pairs of shoes. Where have the rest all the shoes gone I wonder ?. “This is where the French flag was!”, they exclaim. A marker signifies where the French soldiers “played Volley” during all of this. Another marks the mass graves. Four in all. We walk back. The women again washing. Not clothes but human remains. Skulls and bones of all types brown and old looking. Eight to ten women all with rubber gloves STILL processing the bones of possible family members. My stomach convulses.

Its 15 years to the day since this happened. Making it all the more poignant. These people divided and conquered by the Belgians and the atrocities fuelled and financed by the French. Weapons bought from the Egyptians. Ignored by the world. Why did it happen? A concoction of calamities. Why am I here ? Good question. Maybe everyone who comes to Rwanda needs to. To pay tribute. To learn. To understand. This is a tough place to take in and digest. We walk away quietly through the gates and back to town. I try to fathom what I’ve just seen. “Why?” I think. Ubuntu (put simply) – I am, because we are. The natural rhythm of the Bantu people disrupted by colonists for material gain.

So, NO Ubuntu.

muni