It’s 7.45 a.m and it is an oddly grey and cool morning. The usual thunder of Saturday traffic past my house is petering out because today is Umuganda and we are all expected (by law) to be outside joining in with our local Umudugado (small named housing sector) area works; be it cleaning in front of the house or taking part in specific works like clearing ditches. If you get in your car and go out, you will be stopped by the police and not be able to move until Umuganda is over (around 11 a.m.).
I have had vague intentions of joining in since I arrived but so far have failed to identify which Umudugado I live in (and for that matter, what my address is). The night before Umuganda always seems to be extra lively in town. Last night was no exception, and I wonder if I am the only person to wake up with a sore head and a failed ambition; intentional or otherwise? So here I wait until I can go out.
To add to the liveliness, two Grenade Attacks were also carried out in Kigali last night. They have been generally viewed as part of the run up to Genocide Memorial week which starts on Monday culminating on Saturday 7th April which will be Genocide Memorial Day across Rwanda. Eighteen years on.
Where shall I be on the 7th? Driving about Akagera National Park having a fun old time. That’s where. Like so many expats, I shall be taking advantage of the extra day off on Friday and getting out of Kigali to frolic elsewhere. The exodus of westerners has started in earnest already and you cannot escape the obvious parallel this departure has on the past. As we all know, Rwanda was abandoned to its fate by westerners who lived here and was ignored by the international community until most of the killing had been completed in those 100 days and the word ‘genocide’ was finally accepted as applicable to Rwanda.
The traffic sounds have now been replaced by the hubbub of voices and I can hear the odd scraping of shovels. Let’s see what next month brings; another Primus hangover or a commitment to taking part in my community of which I haven’t been bothered to find out the name of?