I toured a small church site today where over 5000 people (men, women, babies) were slaughtered during the Rwandan genocide just 17 years ago..their bones and clothes were all still there - couldn't help but think about all the hate language that is exchanged between the mouths of the extreme republicans and democrats in our country - how easily violent movements can emerge and spread from hate speech and propaganda..those who were once neighbors and shared coffee turned on each other - normal everyday people. Today, you walk these streets and you would never know that such a thing could have happened - all from hate and fear - it can spread like wildfire and destroy all civility.
Kigali is one of the most beautiful African cities I have ever seen. It is clean and paved and you feel so secure here. I would easily exchange Nairobi for Kigali. People appear to live in harmony here (ironic right?). It doesn't have the feel that Nairobi has, where you feel labeled because of the color of your skin and where you get the sense that people feel you owe them something...just for being there. Here, it's different. There is a feeling of sincere hosptiality - not because you are going to pay them or because you are white and you get treated differently for that, just because you are a visitor and they want to show you this place and how it is here. I went out with some local friends on Friday night and the bar was just this big fun bar with black and white and all skin tones in between just blending and talking and dancing and there was no stigma, no self conciousness, just togetherness and people being people. I realized I miss that. In Nairobi, I have met many wonderful people but there is a definite barrier to blending - not just physical..there is a social barrier. And i sometimes get comments even at work that make me feel guilty for something or comments that give me a feeling that I am part of something that was forced on these people. I was speaking to our HR person at work about the poor quality of reports that i am recieving from staff...to which he responded "English was brought to us with the dhows" - meaning: in those slave ships that (you) brought over, also came the English, it was not our language. I feel like screaming, "I'm sorry - I'm not staying long."
Anways, I guess my point was, that Kigali feels different - perhaps due to the violence that spued like a volcano and overtook everything just a few years ago...perhaps because every single Rwandan has a story about the genocide and the destruction caused by hate - perhaps they are out of energy for intolerance and suspicion. Perhaps it was the difference between the British colonization in Kenya and the Dutch/French in Rwanda..Or perhaps, we do owe something to Nairobi -