On the drive going back to Kigali from Akagera National Park we took more notice of our surroundings. There were lots of sorghum fields with sorghum growing very high, next to rows of sunflowers - also really high, with lush banana fields in back of those. Once again we saw men sawing huge trees, each end straddled on a saw-horse, and they were pulling old-fashioned saws back and forth. The trees had already been skinned of all their bark. And the same trees were being sawed on the way back as the ones that were being sawed on the way there, it seemed. It was definitely an all-day job.

About half way along the dirt road to the main highway, we came upon a village where lots of people were congregated in the main centre. We stopped to give a ball away, thinking it would be good entertainment for everyone.

Car Trunk   Bob & Ball

There's our car with crew digging into the trunk to get the mystery surprise that everyone is coming to see about. In the photo on the right notice that even the boys at the water pump are getting interested.

In the first photo below see the long line of people waiting to fill their water cans. See as well the tall banana trees peeking over the buildings across the street:

Water Cans   Baby on Back

In the second photo above, notice the baby bundled on the back of its mother. To me that's another personification of Rwanda, and by extension, all of Africa. It's the only way I ever saw babies being transported there. I never saw a buggy or a stroller. Pushing one of those would probably be considered a waste of hands which are better left free to balance loads or carry water cans.

Notice as well how healthy and happy all the people look, and how clean are all their clothes. It never ceased to intrique us as to how they accomplish this cleanliness, in this country covered in orange dust, and where water is a hard-fetched commodity.

I think maybe part of the reason the people look so healthy is because they eat a simple diet consisting of locally home grown ingredients. I've read that the Rwandan diet "consists mainly of sweet potatoes, beans, corn, peas, millet and fruit. A traditional breakfast consists of sweet potatoes and porridge, which is a mixture of sorghum, corn and millet, mixed with milk. In urban areas, such as Kigali, people usually have bread and tea for breakfast. Rwandans add lots of milk and sugar to their tea.

Lunch and dinner may consist of boiled beans, bananas, sweet potatoes or cassava. Umutsima (a dish of cassava and corn), isombe (cassava leaves with eggplant and spinach) and mizuzu (fried plantains) are common dishes. Dinner is the heaviest meal. Between meals, Rwandans often snack on fruits. Tropical fruits such as avocados, bananas, mangos and papaya are abundant in Rwanda. Roadside vendors in urban areas sell roasted corn and barbecued meat.

Many Rwandan men enjoy drinking beer, but women rarely drink alcohol in any form. Although Rwanda has a large commercial brewery, many people make their own beer and alcoholic beverages, using sorghum, corn or fermented plantains. Ikigage is a locally brewed alcoholic drink made from dry sorghum and urwarwa is brewed from plantains. Traditionally, people drink beer through straws from a single large container.

Rwandans who live in rural areas rarely eat meat. Some families have cattle, but since cattle are considered a status symbol, people seldom slaughter them for meat. Many Rwandans in rural areas eat meat only once or twice a month and some Rwandan children suffer from protein deficiency. In urban areas meat is more plentiful. The most popular meats are beef and chicken. People who live near lakes may catch and eat fish. Tilapia and sambaza are raised on fish farms."

As we pulled away from the village, after the young man in the yellow shirt had blown up the ball and been given responsibility for sharing it with the rest of the children, we looked out the back window and saw the ball flying high in the air, as usual.


Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

email: orwelltoday@gmail.com
website: www.orwelltoday.com