Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Second Life of Rwanda

One of my goals of this blog is to give my beloveds at home a view of Rwanda beyond genocide. I came here to study the genocide, yes, but more importantly to study recovery. I came here to find out how a broken, bleeding society could build this beautiful city I live in, could become the lovely people I know, in less than 2 decades. I have no answers. Instead, I will share a couple of adventures that show the light of Kigali, not its darkness.

This weekend I went out exploring. I went to a market with a couple of friends, and wandered through the chaotic spread of beans, passion fruit, cucumbers, kitchen untencils, used American tshirts, Chinese shoes, and tourist nicknacks. My favorite: the rainbow of bright fabric which Rwandan women use as skirts, baby blankets, get made into shirts or dresses.

Then today I tried to walk from my house to my school, and while I was getting lost in a random neighborhood stumbled into an art studio. Overlooking a valley the studio was painted brightly, adorned with funky statues and paintings. And the art within made the fabric market look drab! It was collective, but all the art shared explosions of color. I expected art in Rwanda to reflect the torment of the past, but this studio was a celebration of life. I hope if I save my pennies while I am here to bring some home: a reminder of all that Rwanda has to offer.

Outside of the studio. 

A painting I loved using fabric bits.

You come to Rwanda for the darkness. To stare into it until you can make some sense of it, no mater how much it hurts. You come expecting victims, expecting broken, trauma, paralysis. You find smiles, strangers who call out 'hello' in a multitude of languages, kids who give you a high five as you pass, angels who point you home when you're lost. You eat mangoes. You watch brilliant birds play around tropical flowers. You find life.

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