Kigali Friends: Big F, Little F

Friends come in many varieties and I was blessed by visits with a number of them on Tuesday. On this day, our neighborhood was flooded with people. The national stadium was the site of a graduation rally for seniors finishing secondary school. I could hear shouting much of the day coming from the stadium. When I walked to the store in the early afternoon, I was amazed at the massive numbers of buses moving back and forth. A police officer was directing traffic at the intersection leading to the stadium. And, everywhere I looked, there were young people in white tee shirts walking, marching, riding in buses, laughing, singing and generally having a good time. On the back of the tee shirt was the message, “Youth are the strength of our nation” (or something similar to that).

Brad and Chelsea Carpenter, along with Drew Miller and John Kaye, were one half hour late in coming to visit me due to all the traffic. We came back to the house and talked for about 45 minutes.  Brad and Chelsea shared of their work as Friends missionaries here.  We talked about Rwandan culture and Brad shared what knowledge he had gained from his extensive research on the culture and traditional values of the Rwandan people.

John and Drew are here from Oregon for one year to teach English.  They had just returned from a Quaker Youth Event in Kenya.  They mentioned young friends from the Netherlands and that gave me opportunity to relate my visit to the Amsterdam meeting in 2008.  They spoke about their experiences as teachers working with primary aged children and their impressions of Rwanda.  John and Drew may have something for me to take back to Newberg.

This set of Friends left me and so I walked to the stadium to meet Vianney Nyamutera, the President of the Le Rapid Cycling Club.  We went to a local pub called The Bananna, which i doubt very many westerners visit.  It was quiet, as I learned it was far too early in the day (4:00 pm) for people to be gathering.  There I met Roland, a friend of Vianney.  Roland had been a friend of his parents and Vianney had been close to him for many years.  Roland spoke very little English.  He was quite welcoming to me, bought me a beer, and some meat on a stick.  I got to sample goat meat, which was quite good and beef intestines, also good.  These bits of meat were hot off the fire, quite tasty, and when I added the local pepper sauce (peri peri) it was a delightful appetizer.

After our visit, Vianney took us to the stadium, where we met his riders.  About 25 young people gathered.  There were about 8 bicycles total.  A few of the riders had the club uniform on and a few also had riding clothes.  Vianney introduced me, asked me to say a little speech, which I did, and then I took a number of pictures of the riders.  You can see some here.

After my visit with Vianney and his riding club, I met Mariette Utamuvuna, one of the people working with the Umuseke Association.  We took a taxi to the Papyrus Restaurant, which is in a fairly upscale neighborhood.  Maritte told me that a number of the government ministers live in this area.  I had grilled Tilapia and Mariette spoke with me about her family and her faith.  We had a good visit and made plans for a trip to Butare on Thursday.  She also presented me with a card and gift from Umuseke, to honor me for my visit to their office and to thank me for my interest in their work.  The gift was a wooden commemorative plate of Rwanda to hang in my office.

At the end of the evening, after I returned back to the house, I saw Aryn, who had been in Uganda for over a week visiting with her students as they prepared to return to the States.  All in all a good day with friends.

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