July 10, 2008 Kigali
I've been here about 24 hours now and getting acclimated. There was a
14 hour layover in Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia on the way. Not much sleep but
good hospitality and efficiency on the part of the Ethiopian tourist
industry. When I got off the plane they had a voucher for hotel with my
name on it, transport was arranged and meals ready. I had gotten off
the plane at 8pm and was sitting at a table having supper by 9:30pm.
Most of their connecting flights now have a layover like that and it may
be a way of stimulating the hotel industry. The price is most probably
added to the ticket. We'll never know.
Some of the Free University of Kigali, who I will be teaching on
Saturday and Sunday, were there to greet me. I taught them a basic
mediation course last year and some have been quite active.
I'm struggling to learn the keyboard on this continent. The letter Y is
located where Z is supposed to be and Z is where U is normally located.
Capitalization key is small on the left side and I miss it often. So
much for the minor details.
I arrived yesterday the 9th on a trip without incident. Spent a night
in Addis Abbaba and have nothing but good words for Ethiopia for their
efficiency in finding me a room on the house, taking me to the Ararat
hotel, a modest but welcoming place with great food. Lots of Italian
influence there. I'll be staying a few nights in Addis on the way home
in August visiting an old Zimbabwean friend, Alistair Smith, who is now
working there, but his wife Priscilla is staying in Zimbabwe despite the
current economic and political crisis.
Several students who I will be teaching on Saturday and Sunday were at
the airport to meet me. My bags were the last ones off the plane and a
manager apologized profusely explaining that they had a new conveyor
just in operation and couldn't get it going as fast as they had hoped.
He literally asked my forgivness.
There are two young Americans staying at the house with me. Emily, a
recent Haverford College graduate, and Andrew, a less recent Haverford
grad, though still in his twenties. Haverford for those of you who
don't recognize the name is a prestigious Quaker college in
Philadelphia. After five weeks volunteering here , Emily will be on her
way to her first job with the Quaker mission to the UN. Andrew will be
here for a year as a volunteer doing grant writing and hopefully writing
himself into a paying job. He will spend most of his time in Burundi, a
day south of here. Time to send this. I'll continue on a third letter.
Emily is organizing a trip to Gitarama tomorrow. This is a site of a
major event during the genocide in1994 and is now a very important
memorial site. If I have time I will go, but I may be in preparation
for the course on Saturday.
Among other things, Emily has been going to Internally displace persons
(IDP ) camps and interviewing leaders to find out what is going on.
They are by definition Rwandan citizens, but many have been living in
Tanzania for 40 years having fled the genocide of the early 1960's.
Some of the residents are Hutus who fled and returned after the 1994
genocide, and there are some local Tutsi's as well. The government has
settled them there, given them some seed for planting and built concrete
or brick houses. They took some of that land from a corner of the only
game park other than that of the mountain gorilla's. As a result,
impala, and baboons have eaten everything they've grown and there is
nothing left.They have no means of moving out of the area. Also when
they first came in, they didn't speak Kinyarwanda language anymore,so
they were trained in that . But in general they are in pretty dire
straits. It's a story that few have heard.
This morning I woke to Blue Grass gospel being played on a radio at a
neighbor's house, followed by Dolly Parton. Announcer spoke Kinyarwanda
the most frequently spokenlanguage in this country.
breakfast of passion fruit, granadillas, bananas, hard boiled
eggs, bread and coffee, I walkedup the hill to the Quaker Peace
meet some of the people I taught last year. Eugene who taught an
Alternatives to Violence course that I helped with was not there , but
learned that his wife who was ill with cancer passed away two
ago. Jonas who takes care of the school for Street Children was there.
He didn't recognize me immediately, but then recalled when reminded. At
least he was very polite about it.
A sign on the road going up to the Peace House declared the presence of
the Diane Fossy Guest House (you may remember the book or movie,
Gorillas in the Mist) Anyway some enterprizing person used her name.
The sign also announced the presence of a 'full oxygen garden',
something lost in translation?
Bought cell phone for use over here and now at an internet cafe near the
house. Best to all of you. George
August 21, 2008
August 14, 2008
August 10, 2008
August 9, 2008
August 8, 2008
August 7, 2008
August 4, 2008
August 3, 2008
August 2, 2008
July 30, 2008
July 29, 2008
July 28, 2008
July 27, 2008
July 26, 2008
July 23, 2008
July 22, 2008
July 21, 2008
July 16, 2008
July 14, 2008
July 11, 2008
July 10, 2008
June 19, 2008