Only our third post and our fourth day, though it feels like we've been here a month...
We arrived in Kigali on Friday night and were looked after wonderfully by our hosts Richard Murray, Ben Macon-Cooney (both from Africa Governance Initiative) and Ed Pearson (who is running a charity building a cricket stadium here in Kigali). With this in mind, it perhaps should not have surprised us so to arrive and find the entire Rwandan national cricket team in the sitting room, but...! Rich took us straight to Kigali's hottest, coolest, funkiest spot Papyrus Bar where we had a delicious supper and caught up on some Rwandan politics.
The next morning up bright and early for a Kinyarwanda lesson from Ed (basically so long as we learnt Thankyou (Mura Kose) and No worries! (Nake Baso!) we knew we'd get along fine...), and then flew to Bujumbura in Burundi.
There we met with the actors from Théâtre et Reconciliation who work with the wonderful Frédérique leComte. To all our great dismay, Frédérique had had to leave unexpectedly two days before to go back to Belgium, so we were meeting her and her work vicariously through her actors. She stayed closely in touch with us though throughout, and ensured that we were looked after and filmed what we needed to film. We will be meeting her later on either in London or Belgium soon, to interview her.
But for then it was all about the actors, the play and her work. We've been so lucky to spend the day with these extraordinary actors who performed scenes from AMAKUBA (Catastrophe) for us in the public garden.
We will be writing a separate blogpost about the work itself shortly... But for now, here are some photos.
After our day of filming, Prospère and Jean-Claude took us to Lake Tanganyika for a beer and an ice-cream as the sun began to set. And yes, it was as magical as it sounds - with the Congolese mountains in the distance, kids splashing in the water, and the promise/threat of hippos around any corner...
We had supper with the sister of a friend of Georgie's, an incredible woman called Libby who has lived and worked as a missionary in Bujumbura since about 1997. She and her husband Honda run Restoration of Hope http://www.rofh.org/ which is every bit as extraordinary as it sounds. Between them, they are parents to 72 children, who previously lived on the streets. Their commitment, love and fierce loyalty to the education and love of those children was astonishing, and we hope very much to remain in contact with them.
The next morning was all about catching the bus back to Kigali. Susannah had suddenly got really quite ill over breakfast - though we later realised she had taken a malaria tablet on an empty stomach (won't be doing that again!) - so we missed all the buses bar the very last one.. which our taxi driver screeched his way towards, leaning out of the window shouting 'deux places! deux places pour les mzungus!'... We did indeed get the very last two seats out of Burundi that day. Although 'seats' was a bit of an exaggeration as there were actually no 'seats' left, only those tiny bucket seats that fold out in the aisle of minibuses. So with Georgie behind squashed between two rather unsympathetic men, and Susannah in front squashed between two very sympathetic women (see photo of Susannah fast asleep on Annick's shoulder!), we began the 7 hour journey back to Burundi. We were very aware that there are very few mzungus who get to do this cross-country journey, and spent the entire time (when not fast asleep!) drinking it all in. More pics and vids to come.
We are back in Kigali now and have a full day meeting Search for Common Ground and - finally - Hope Azeda! So... more soon.
For now - tugende! (let's go!) and mese fresh! (all is very cool!)
Susannah and Georgie